UNCF, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Partnership for Education Advancement Announce Historic Collaboration to Serve and Improve Socioeconomic Outcomes for Black Communities

Mar 18, 2022
UNCF (The United Negro College Fund), the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and Partnership for Education Advancement have launched a landmark collaboration to drive tangible, long-term progress across Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and impact the Black economy. Dubbed the HBCU Transformation Project, this first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to increase HBCU health and sustainability, improve student outcomes in retention and graduation rates, expand enrollment, and increase capacity building with faculty and staff. Flexible support from the coalition focuses resources to highest priorities at each institution. Claflin University is one of 20 HBCUs to participate in this project.
The overall initiative is structured around six interdependent sub-initiatives that work in service of supporting all HBCUs:
  1. Support institutional improvement and innovation via UNCF, TMCF, and the Partnership for Education Advancement
  2. Institutional and intermediary capacity building to lead and sustain ongoing improvement
  3. Pursue increased public funding for HBCUs and rectify historic inequities
  4. Attracting private capital for endowments and sustainable reserves
  5. Strengthening community and regional economic development partnerships
  6. Bolstering positive perceptions and narratives surrounding HBCUs
Blue Meridian Partners, a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to problems that limit economic and social mobility for America’s young people and families in poverty, committed an initial $60 million to support the HBCU Transformation Project. 
“We are tremendously excited to be part of this unique collaboration that will support the critical needs of HBCUs and the communities we serve,” said Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. “UNCF and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund have enduring legacies as advocates of HBCUs and our mission of providing access to exceptional academic programs that prepare graduates for global leadership. Blue Meridian Partners’ initial investment confirms their commitment to creating lasting, positive impact, and the Partnership of Education Advancement’s mission to improve socioeconomic mobility is an essential priority of all HBCUs. These organizations deserve our deepest appreciation and gratitude for their remarkable leadership, vision, and support for HBCUs.”
Although they represent just three percent of all Higher Education institutions, HBCUs produce nearly 20% of all African American college graduates. HBCUs have produced more than 1 million associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degrees combined since 1984.
HBCUs produce 40% of all Black engineers, 40% of Black Congress members, 50% of all Black lawyers, 50% of all Black doctors, and 80% of Black judges. These professions are critical for closing the wealth gap between Black and White workers.
While HBCUs overproduce relative to their better-resourced counterparts, they have remained underfunded. Historical underfunding has led to a myriad of financial issues for HBCUs, particularly much smaller endowments relative to their peers. 
“Our country has under-invested in HBCUs which have a proven track record for unlocking student potential, driving socioeconomic mobility, and serving as significant community assets,” said James Runcie, President, Partnership for Education Advancement.
Recent data from McKinsey & Company shows that investing in HBCUs would profoundly affect the US economy and help fill the social and economic gaps Black Americans experience. HBCUs are uniquely positioned to foster such advancement given their assets, experience, and cultural and historical significance.
“This collaboration offers a powerful opportunity to drive positive socioeconomic impact,” said Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams. “We are proud to partner on this unique, capacity-focused strategy that brings together HBCU institutional relationships and the capacity building experience of TMCF, UNCF, and the Partnership for Education Advancement.”
“UNCF and Thurgood Marshall College Fund have worked together for many years, and this collaboration is a continuation of our efforts to amplify support for the needs of HBCUs and the students they serve,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “Blue Meridian Partners support is very important and will significantly enhance the HBCU innovation and transformation work that UNCF’s Institute Capacity Building team has been pioneering for nearly two decades. This high-profile campaign will make the case to donors and to the government to elevate the profile of HBCUs and raise the support they deserve.”
“HBCUs have long over performed as engines of opportunity," said Jim Shelton, Blue Meridian Partners chief investment and innovation officer. “With this investment, we aim to significantly strengthen these institutions and student success at scale, contribute to closing racial gaps in access to opportunity, and boost economic mobility and wealth-building among Black people and communities now and for generations to come.”
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