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Philanthropic group gifts United Negro College Fund $100 million grant to help boost HBCU endowments

By Nicquel Terry Ellis, CNN

(CNN) — The United Negro College Fund has been awarded a $100 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support a capital campaign that was created in part to boost endowments for historically Black colleges and universities.

The award, which was announced Thursday by the UNCF, marks the largest unrestricted private grant the organization has ever received, UNCF president Michael Lomax said in a statement.

The UNCF said the grant will help the organization build a pooled endowment fund for its 37 member institutions. The goal is to boost the endowments at those schools by $10 million each, according to the UNCF.

Lomax said the pooled endowments will “become permanent assets of the institutions.”

“We believe this is the most prudent way to use Lilly Endowment’s transformational support,” Lomax said in a statement.

Marc Barnes, senior vice president of UNCF’s capital campaign, said the Lilly Endowment’s grant will “change the financial trajectory of many HBCUs for many years to come.”

“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,” Barnes said in a statement.

According to the UNCF’s Fredrick D. Patterson Research Institute, the median endowment for member institutions is $15.9 million. The UNCF expects that will increase to $25.9 million once the capital campaign is completed.

Lomax said the Lilly Endowment previously gave the UNCF a $50 million award in 2015 that helped launch the Career Pathways Initiative which sought to enhance career outcomes for HBCU students.

N. Clay Robbins, chairman and CEO of the Lilly Endowment, said they have supported the UNCF’s efforts to assist HBCU’s for nearly 80 years.

“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,” Robbins said.

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