Tag Archives: HBCUs

GENTRIFIED – The Ten HBCUs With The Least African Americans On Campus

My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘blackness’ than ever before. I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. – Michelle Obama

A look at enrollment statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics show that currently of the HBCUs that receive federal funding (colleges such as Chicago State, Malcolm X College, and a few colleges are excluded because of the federal definition* of what an HBCU is defined as.) The problem of course with not amending that definition leaves no room for the evolution or expansion of the funding. It also continues to mean that others define us more than we define us. The acute tragedy of it means more importantly that money designated for building of African America’s higher education interest is being siphoned off by other communities. In some cases extremely so and that extreme is that on our list seven of the ten HBCUs listed have less than 50 percent of their student body being of African descent. 

T1. Saint Philip’s College (TX) – 9.2%

T1. West Virginia State University (W. VA) – 9.2%

2. Bluefield State College (W. VA) – 9.5%

3. Gadsden State Community College (AL) – 17.2%

4. Shelton State Community College (AL) – 35.2%

5. Lincoln University of Missouri (MO) – 46.2%

6. University of the District of Columbia School of Law (D.C.) – 47.5%

7. Central State University (OH) – 52.7%

8. Bishop State Community College (AL) – 58.9%

9. Fayetteville State University (NC) – 59.6%

10. Edward Waters College (FL) – 61.8%

These schools are the worst of the bunch, but by no means isolated. There are a number of HBCUs where the trend line shows a decreasing population of African descent against the total population of the school and were we to increase our cutoff to 70 percent, a considerable number of additional schools would have been added. This trend is in line with the recent release from the NCES stating, “The percentage of Black students enrolled at HBCUs fell from 18 percent in 1976 to 8 percent in 2014 and then increased to 9 percent in 2020.” What does it mean for African America’s higher educational interest that HBCUs are seeing their leadership and recruitment focused on taking ethnic diversity to a potential extreme? To the point where the school’s would no longer hold or be a cultural asset to African America? These are the questions that need to be asking in urgency, because for the institutions that remaining an African American institution is important too, then strengthening their K-12 pipeline for African American high school graduates is an urgent conversation to be had. That HBCUs do not focus on an Afrocentric definition of diversity, people of African descent from different parts of the Diaspora, African Americans from different geographies, economic backgrounds, religious backgrounds, etc. would still provide diversity shows we often take our cues for higher educational direction from PWIs and not a collection of our own thoughts.

It also more importantly begs the question that if an HBCU is only Black in historic terms only, should their federal funding be redistributed to HBCUS/PBIs who are still serving the higher educational interest of African America. The HBCUs listed (excluding UDC’s law school) received $280 million of the $2.7 billion in federal funding from American Rescue Plan Investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities most recently, but given their populations, arguably very little is going to help African American students, their families, or our communities. Is the goal for the funding to be substantive to African American higher education development or just symbolic because without absolute consideration to that point, then we are simply getting more of the latter and not the former. 

HBCU Money™ Turns 10 Years Old

By William A. Foster, IV

The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.” – Thomas Sowell

A DECADE! HBCU Money is still here, still growing, and still strong. We continue to be here to ask the hard questions, present strategic analysis, and be objective about African American and African Diaspora economic, finance, and investment from an HBCU and institutional perspective. The HBCU Money culture remains deeply rooted in our Pan-African values in how we observe the investment world. This means that everything we see will always believe that African America and its institutions will always be stronger together and even more empowered as they connect and partner with our brethren African Diaspora institutions and the larger Diaspora ecosystem.

What does the next decade hold for HBCU Money? More. The original goals of HBCU Money have not changed and while the path there has taken longer than we expected, our constitution is as strong as ever. We plan to expand our staff, our coverage, and the mediums through which we provide information.

Thank you to those who have been there since the beginning, who have joined along the way, and all of you who continue to be our champions.

Ariel Capital’s 2020 Black Investor Survey: African America’s Continued Fight To Close The Investment Gap

“On March 23, 2020, the S&P 500 fell 2.9%. In all, the index dropped nearly 34% in about a month, wiping out three years’ worth of gains for the market. It all led to a 76.1% surge for the S&P 500 and a shocking return to record heights. This run looks to be one of the, if not the, best 365-day stretches for the S&P 500 since before World War II. Based on month-end figures, the last time the S&P 500 rose this much in a 12-month stretch was in 1936, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.” – CBS News

Ariel Capital released their 2020 Black Investor Survey and the results show that there is reason to be pessimistic today, but potentially optimistic for tomorrow. The survey focuses on middle class African American and European American households earning over $50K in 2019. Some key financial points outside of this survey that should be taken into context though are poverty for African American stands at 21.2 percent versus 9.0 percent for European Americans. This high rate of poverty for African Americans means that middle class African Americans, as noted in the survey, are more likely to have high levels of assistance to family and friends which provides a damper on higher investing capabilities. These high levels of poverty are highly reflective of the median wealth gap between African and European Americas, $24,100 versus $188,200, respectively. African America continues to suffer from weak institution building and therefore the ability for its economic and financial ecosystem to strengthen continues to be suffocated. Firms like Ariel Capital and other African American financial institutions need more investment and support from other African American institutions, like HBCUs, in order to scale and create more employment, wealth, and economic opportunities beyond the grassroots level.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The deep-rooted gap in stock market participation between the groups persists, with 55% of Black Americans and 71% of white Americans reporting stock market investments.
  • 63% of Black Americans under the age of 40 now participate in the stock market, equal to their white counterparts.
  • Ownership rates of 401(k) plans are now similar between Black and white Americans (53% vs. 55%).
  • White 401(k) plan participants put 26% more per month toward their retirement accounts than Black 401(k) plan participants ($291 vs. $231).
  • Black Americans are less likely than white Americans to own almost every kind of financial vehicle, with the exception of whole life insurance, which is favored in the Black community.
  • They are also less likely than white Americans to have written wills, financial plans, or retirement plans.
  • For Black Americans, disparities grow every month; while they save $393 per month, white Americans are saving 76% more ($693 per month).
  • Black Americans are also far less likely to have inherited (23% vs. 51%) or expect to inherit wealth (15% vs. 35%).
  • Black Americans are less likely to work with financial advisors (21% vs. 45% of whites).
  • Student loan delay or deferral was reported as being three times more common among Black Americans (16%) than whites (5%).
  • More than twice as many Black 401(k) participants (12% vs. 5%) borrowed money from their retirement accounts.
  • Almost twice as many Black Americans (18% vs. 10%) dipped into an emergency fund.
  • And 9% of Black Americans (vs. 4% of white Americans) say they asked their family or friends for financial support in 2020, while 18% of Black Americans and 13% of white Americans acknowledged giving financial support to family and friends last year.
  • Among Black Americans, 10% discussed the stock market with their families growing up, while 37% discuss the stock market with their families now (compared to 23% and 36%, respectively, for white Americans).
The chart above tracks the participation in the stock market through individual stocks, mutual funds, or ETFS. For African and European Americans, 2020 is an all-time low of participation since tracking began in January 1998. However, the gap of participation has closed from 24 percentage points in 1998 to 16 percentage points in 2020. Primarily due to the all-time low of European America’s participation falling by 10 percentage points and African America’s falling by only 2 percentage points. The closest the gap has been was in 2001 and 2002 when it was 10 percentage points and in 2002 saw African America break through 70 percentage points the only time in the survey’s history when we reached 74 percent.

HBCUs can play a significant role in closing the investment gap by introducing students to HBCU alumni who have gone on to become investors and financial advisors – thus circulating both intellectual and financial capital within the HBCU ecosystem. Even more so, they can assist in ensuring students set up investment accounts like a Roth IRA during their freshmen year and throughout matriculation. The earlier students are engaged in investing the more compounding can work for them over their lifetime which in turn makes for wealthier alumni, larger future donations, stronger African American communities, and more value proposition for HBCUs to promote within the African American community.

African American Poverty Rates Per HBCU State

HBCUs and strategic PBIs comprise 23 states in the Unites States along with the Virgin Islands and Washington D.C. HBCU Money decided to take a look into the African American poverty rates and overall poverty rates for each state where an HBCU operates. Included are states of California (Charles Drew University), Illinois (Chicago State University), New York (Medgar Evers College), and Massachusetts (Roxbury Community College) which are also states with significant African American populations. The results of these states show a median poverty rate of 34.6 percent for African Americans versus 20.3 percent overall which are show in parentheses per state. There are seven HBCU states where the African American poverty rate is 2X the general population.

Alabama – 40.1% (24.6%)

Arkansas – 35.9% (22.5%)

California – 28.6% (18.1%)

Delaware – 28.0% (18.5%)

Florida – 31.7% (20.3%)

Georgia – 30.9% (21.0%)

Illinois – 37.5% (17.0%)

Kentucky – 34.6% (22.4%)

Louisiana – 47.1% (28.0%)

Maryland – 19.5% (12.0%)

Massachusetts – 24.0% (13.5%)

Michigan – 41.2% (19.7%)

Mississippi – 42.5% (26.9%)

Missouri – 37.6% (18.6%)

New York – 30.8% (19.7%)

North Carolina – 32.3% (21.2%)

Ohio – 42.1% (20.1%)

Oklahoma – 40.2% (21.5%)

Pennsylvania – 32.7% (17.0%)

South Carolina – 36.7% (22.6%)

Tennessee – 37.0% (21.2%)

Texas – 26.4% (20.9%)

Virginia – 28.3% (14.0%)

Understanding the African American poverty rates is vital for HBCUs and alumni because it means many of our resources for students may need to be targeted toward the unique climb that many African American families face as they send students coming from impoverished backgrounds to college. Things such as travel to and from school during breaks, proper funding for nutrition beyond meal planning, adequate clothing and technology, and stronger life planning resources. The latter being significant because for many of these students they will be creating the foundation for their family. How do you do what nobody in your family has ever done? How do we help the families so that they do not overburden the student? While no formal evidence is know, there is anecdotal evidence that suggest a significant amount of HBCU students are likely sending portions of their financial aid or refunds home to help family members. This notion is supported by research from Thomas Shapiro in his book, “The Hidden Cost of Being African American”, where his research shows that African Americans pass money backwards generationally more than any other group.

Beyond just our students though, HBCU alumni should be creating mediums to help HBCUs be in a position to create social capital in our communities. Imagine for a moment, (Insert Your HBCU) Community Center – funded by HBCU alumni – that serves as a place for K-12 students and their families to receive community resources. This can be a place that provides internships for HBCU social work students, interdisciplinary research opportunities, and again an opportunity to position HBCUs as part of the community leadership and endear themselves in African American communities so that as children are aging HBCUs are at the forefront of their mind. For HBCUs this can be an opportunity that allows for the encouragement of more tangible giving projects for alumni and hopefully creating another means to increase alumni giving.

It must be taken into account that building wealth and reducing poverty are not the same thing, but they certainly dance with each other. Our families, communities, and institutions are often digging themselves out of significant holes that contribute to a lot of other issues we see ailing us. The first step for HBCUs, as one set of institutions part of a greater African American institutional ecosystem, is that we must understand there is a problem and look for ways that HBCUs can work with other African American institutions as well as work within our lane of community development in addressing African American poverty.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The Double-Edged Sword Of White Philanthropy Into HBCUs

“When the white man came, we had the land and they had the Bibles. Now they have the land and we have the Bibles.” – Chief Dan George

Let us be clear, we need the money. Over 95 percent of HBCUs have endowments that are less than $100 million. In 2015, Sweet Briar College, a women’s college in Virginia, abruptly decided to cease operations. It sent shock waves through the higher education world and for many HBCU advocates it was an indirect message to our institutions that the fire alarm for survival for colleges on the financial fringes was not just a drill, but smoke could be seen in the very near distance. Sweet Briar College had an endowment of $75 million, which would put it firmly ahead of over 90 percent of HBCUs currently – and it closed.

It is no secret that the racial wealth gap makes it extremely difficult for African Americans to compete in philanthropic terms with our counterparts. The Federal Reserve in September 2020 reported, “White families have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth: $188,200 and $983,400, respectively. Black families’ median and mean wealth is less than 15 percent that of White families, at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively.” Given these numbers and given how much consistent financial philanthropic efforts are largely correlated with disposable income and wealth, then this certainly can give some understanding to the story of why HBCUs and African American nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in general have struggled. The Black Church (Are African American Churches Derailing African America’s Economic Progress?) being the lone exception to this rule, which has created a domino effect of instability for secular NPO development and infrastructure in our community’s institutions. Simply put, with what little money we do have to give it almost all has for the past three to four decades gone into the black hole coffers of the Black Church and done little to build proper financial infrastructure for other community supporting organizations. Enter white hope and savior.  

2020 has seen unprecedented gifts to HBCUs from white philanthropists starting with Mackenzie Scott, one of the cofounders of Amazon, who at the time of this writing is worth almost $60 billion. She made waves with her unprecedented and seemingly unsolicited gifts to six HBCUs and HBCU supporting organizations that totaled more than $160 million. This was followed up shortly after by Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and worth almost $55 billion himself, with donating $100 million as well to the nation’s four HBCU medical schools. These two donations alone are equivalent to approximately 10 percent of all 100 plus HBCUs combined endowments over their 100 plus year history. Finally in some HBCU circles it was exalted, mainstream America also known as European/White America was “seeing” us and giving us our just due. Paying what was owed to us for so long being mistreated and underfunded. However, that same tune was not being sung or so kind when the Koch brothers donated $50 million between the United Negro College Fund and Thurgood Marshall Fund in 2014 and 2017, respectively. There were some who even called for the money to be returned in both cases so there is an inherent complexity in our organizations being in dire need of funds, but also wanting to be particular about who the donor is. The conversation about HBCUs and European American donors seems to be one that is little discussed and complex in its acknowledgment. But the elephant is there.

In fact, unless something astonishing happens in the rest of 2020 and since HBCU Money has been reporting on the Million Dollar Donations To HBCUs beginning in 2013, three of the seven years of largest donations to HBCUs have come from European/White Americans. There is certainly some historical reasoning behind schools like Hampton, Howard, Morehouse, Spelman, and Tuskegee receiving attention from European American benefactors. These schools have a long storied history and ties with them since their founding. Morehouse and Spelman receiving their names as a result of their generous funding from one John D. Rockefeller, Sr in the late nineteenth century. It is no coincidence that their early proximity to whiteness has allowed them to fair far better financially today than their HBCU counterparts founded by African American interest. But what does it mean when European Americans are the dominant donors of HBCUs and not African Americans? 

The long complex history of European American philanthropy as a social, economic, and political tool of influence seems often remiss in our community. African Americans have a naïve tendency to believe culturally that philanthropy is altruism. This despite us all having a familial experience where one family member lent money to another family member and even if the money is paid back, the lender never seems to let it not be told at Thanksgiving how they saved said family member. Think about European American philanthropy as a tool – missionaries in Africa, seemingly endless aid to Africa through the IMF and World Bank that has been used to create dependency states versus developed (see competitive) economies and you start to realize that philanthropy can have a strategic purpose. It paints a picture that Africans are incapable of empowering themselves and that without European and European American benevolence they simply could not survive. The same picture can be painted for HBCUs and African American NPOs.

It is hard to speak out against European and European American injustice towards the African Diaspora if you are HBCUs and African American NPOs (AANPOs) when that is the hand that feeds you. How can you convince African Americans that African American institutions are the mechanism by which we can empower ourselves as a community if they themselves are unable to find a solution? There have been a number of HBCUs who have come under pressure from wanting to have someone like Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam speak. Whether you agree with his ideology or not, the African American community understands the perch from which he speaks even if they do not agree with it. It should be us who decides who can and can not speak, but that is not how money works. Money garners influence in ways that can make you sit up in your bed uncomfortable at night because you heard something rumbling in the closet, but you live alone. 

Let us be clear, it is not that accepting money from European Americans is bad or unacceptable. There is a fine line between cutting off one’s nose to spite your own face. However, who has the leverage in the donation is vital. Is it money you have to have to keep the doors open or money that just provides icing on the cake? In the former it is the donor who wields immense power and in the latter it is in the institution. HBCU alumni must at least be willing to have the conversation about where our institutions money is coming from and more importantly how can we can ensure non-HBCU donors do not garner influence that moves us off our purpose to serve African American social, economic, and political interest and empowerment.