Clark Atlanta University Hosts UNCF Today as Organization Announces Receipt of $100 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Support Capital Campaign

UNCF’s bold $1 billion campaign will enhance endowments at HBCUs

During a press conference held today on the campus of

Clark Atlanta University, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) announced that Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $100 million unrestricted grant to support UNCF’s capital campaign.

UNCF is undertaking a bold $1 billion capital campaign that includes five components: student scholarships, unrestricted funds to enhance the endowments for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), capacity-building programs for member HBCUs (such as technology, training and research), cash reserves and endowed funds for UNCF and support for UNCF’s annual campaign.

“Since our founding in 1944, Lilly Endowment has been a consistent and significant philanthropic supporter. This $100 million grant is the largest unrestricted private grant we have ever received. It follows a $50 million grant from Lilly Endowment in 2015 that enabled UNCF to launch the Career Pathways Initiative(CPI), which sought to strengthen the programs and capabilities of HBCUs to enhance career outcomes for students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.

After careful consideration on how to utilize Lilly Endowment’s unrestricted grant, UNCF has decided to deploy it to the capital campaign’s objective of building a pooled endowment fund that will increase the endowments at UNCF’s 37 member institutions by $10 million each.

“Lilly Endowment’s unrestricted grant will be used as UNCF’s initial investment toward the establishment of an HBCU pooled endowment fund of $370 million,” Lomax said.

The objective is to increase the unrestricted endowment for each of UNCF’s 37 member institutions by $10 million, or a total of $370 million. Through its capital campaign, UNCF will raise $185 million, or $5 million per institution. It will collaborate with the institutions to match this contribution through their own fundraising efforts. This infusion of $100 million will immediately increase each UNCF member’s endowment by $2.7 million, at least doubling the endowments of several institutions.

“We plan to establish endowments for our member HBCUs that will be pooled and managed at UNCF. They will become permanent assets of the institutions. Rising tides do lift all boats and UNCF is committed to making this a reality because 100 percent of this grant will be used to enhance the endowments at our 37 member colleges and universities. We believe this is the most prudent way to use Lilly Endowment’s transformational support,” said Lomax.

Pooled endowments can offer several benefits to HBCUs, including increased investment power to access a wider range of investment opportunities in stocks, bonds and real estate that can potentially generate higher returns. In addition, pooled endowments promote collaboration and networking among HBCUs, which can lead to enhanced fundraising efforts, increased visibility and improved financial stability.

Research from UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute found that the median endowment for UNCF member institutions is $15.9 million. After the successful completion of the capital campaign, the median will grow to $25.9 million, an increase of 63%, bringing it closer to the median college endowment of $214.6 million as determined by the National Association of College University Business Officers (NACUBO).

“For nearly 80 years, Lilly Endowment has supported UNCF’s efforts to strengthen its member institutions and thereby enhance the educational attainment of their students,” said N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s chairman and CEO. “The UNCF programs we have helped fund in the past have been successful, and we are confident that the efforts to be supported by this bold campaign will have a great impact on UNCF’s member institutions and their students’ lives.”

“This grant from Lilly Endowment is far-reaching and long-lasting. It will change the financial trajectory of many HBCUs for many years to come. We are incredibly grateful for Lilly Endowment’s continued support of UNCF and higher education,” said Marc Barnes, senior vice president, capital campaign, UNCF. “Our commitment is to generate philanthropic funding to not just increase scholarships but also strengthen HBCUs, raise graduation rates, ensure greater economic mobility and grow endowments at all our 37 member HBCUs.”

UNCF Board Chair Milton H. Jones, Jr., affirmed Barnes’ comments. “I commend Lilly Endowment for their ongoing commitment and support of UNCF and its member institutions. This historic grant is going to provide great momentum for our capital campaign and now serves as a catalyst for others in the philanthropic community to join us as we take our member HBCUs to the next level.”

Clark Atlanta University President and Chair of UNCF’s Institutional Board Dr. George T. French, Jr., said, “Today’s announcement is a major accomplishment and will provide unprecedented support for the financial stability and continued success of UNCF’s member institutions. Our campuses stand ready to work with UNCF to accomplish the $370 million goal for the pooled unrestricted endowment.”