Spelman College Receives Largest Gift to Any HBCU in History

A Spelman trustee and her husband gave $100 million in honor of the college's naming anniversary. The gift will go to scholarships, housing, academics, and strategic needs.
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Published on January 19, 2024
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  • Businesswoman and philanthropist Ronda Stryker has been a Spelman College trustee since 1977.
  • According to Spelman College, $75 million of the gift will go to endowed scholarships. The remainder will go toward academics, student housing, and other needs.
  • Historically Black colleges and universities have been underfunded since their inception.

Spelman College in Atlanta just received the largest donation to a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in history for its 100th naming anniversary.

Spelman College announced the historic gift Jan. 18 from businesswoman and philanthropist Ronda Stryker and her husband, Chairman of Greenleaf Trust William Johnston. Stryker has been a Spelman College trustee since 1977 and has worked to empower women through higher education and create opportunities for historically excluded groups.

Spelman College said $75 million will go to endowed scholarships, and $25 million will go to developing an academic focus on public policy and democracy, improving student housing, and providing funding for other needs.

"We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity," Spelman President Helene Gayle said in a press release. "This gift is a critical step in our school's mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education. We can't thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There's no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her."

HBCUs are land-grant institutions that have been historically underfunded since they began, despite being entitled to the same funding as their predominantly white counterparts. Donors and private organizations have been looking for ways to help with the issue.

Last week, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) received an unrestricted $100 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. UNCF is using the gift to enhance all its member HBCUs' endowments, including Spelman's.