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Record $93.8 million in donations boosts N.C. A&T's ability to provide scholarships, fund academics and research
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Record $93.8 million in donations boosts N.C. A&T's ability to provide scholarships, fund academics and research

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GREENSBORO — N.C. A&T University crushed its past record for private fundraising with $93.8 million raised in its just concluded fiscal year, which included the end of a long-running fundraising campaign by the university.

The amount includes a blockbuster $45 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos. But even without Scott’s gift, the university would have still more than doubled the record it set for donations in fiscal year 2020, when it raised $18.1 million.

N.C. A&T is the United States’ largest public historically black college or university. The nation’s next largest public HBCU, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, raised $13.62 million for the year, which was a record for them also.

Harry Williams, the president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said that many of the HBCUs his group works with saw record fundraising for the year. That was driven, he said, by corporations and philanthropists looking to make a positive difference for Black people in the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd in 2020.

“It touched something in the core of this country, as far what we saw happening to an African American in Minneapolis,” he said.

Williams said before this year, no other public HBCU had ever raised $93.8 million in a single fiscal year, and it’s plausible that A&T may hold the all-time record. Still, he said he would want to check final numbers from Morgan State and Prairie View A&M, which also were the recipients of similar-sized grants from MacKenzie Scott this year, before he made that claim.

A&T has used part of the money Scott gave to endow its February One Scholarship Program. That is a full-ride, merit scholarship named for the date that four students from A&T launched the sit-in movement in 1960. The first scholarship recipients are beginning classes this week.

“The influx in corporate giving is directly related to A&T’s popularity and the social injustice reckoning under way in the United States,” Ralisha Mercer, associate vice chancellor for development at A&T, said in a news release. “We hope to sustain this momentum as a foundation for our university’s growth and development to fulfill its mission and exceed all expectations for success.”

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Williams said corporations and philanthropic institutions looked to HBCUs as institutions with a track record of helping disenfranchised Black people improve their economic situations. While some of the donations are one-time gifts, he said the year also sparked the beginning of partnerships with companies that should continue to benefit the colleges and universities in the years ahead.

A&T announced new five-year partnerships this fiscal year with Walmart and Corning Inc., with Walmart giving $5 million and Corning giving $5.5 million. The school also received $2.1 million from 3M, building on an existing partnership that has supported a sales internship program with the company.

Williams said that A&T was well-positioned to take advantage of the surging interest because of the quality of the school, its legacy of civil rights advocacy and the leadership of President Harold Martin Sr., whom Williams called the best president in A&T’s history.

Martin said in a news release that supporters’ generosity had created a “new financial reality” at the university.

“These investments are now generating millions annually in earnings that go to support a wide range of student success, academic, research and programmatic needs, and they are making a real difference in the quality and impact of A&T,” he said.

The banner year for fundraising by HBCUs coincided with the final months of a major fundraising push by the university. Dec. 31 was the final deadline for donations to its eight-year-long “Campaign For North Carolina A&T” capital fundraising campaign.

That campaign started with a “quiet” phase in 2012, before going public in 2018 with a goal of $85 million. It hit that mark in 2019, then expanded the objective to $100 million by the end of December.

It smashed that goal too, raising $181.4 million — more than any other public HBCU has generated in a capital campaign, according to the news release. Among those who donated to the campaign were 14,837 A&T alumni.

Drawing from the influx of funding, A&T’s endowment has grown to $157.5 million, up $83.7 million from the prior year, according to the news release. The release also said that the earnings generated by the endowment, “support academic programming, student scholarships and financial aid, faculty salaries and more that may not otherwise receive funding.”

The university plans to establish new centers of excellence in health and human sciences, education and the liberal arts in the wake of the campaign’s conclusion, and boost investments in new faculty related to the university’s research mission, the release said.

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.

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