While many are struggling with how to correct the inequities Black people continue to face in this country, one couple is putting their wealth to good use by donating to historically Black colleges and universities.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, have given $40 million each to the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College and Morehouse College. The total, $120 million, is the largest-ever individual gift to support students of color at HBCUs.

The funds will specifically be used to create scholarships so the next generation will graduate with less debt.

Hastings told ESSENCE Tuesday that after working with Michael Lomax, Ph.D., on the board of the KIPP Foundation, which helps to develop college prep schools in low-income neighborhoods, he was convinced to “take a chance to get to know the great work going on in the HBCU world.”

“This year, with all the craziness going on in America, we reached out and decided we should do a bigger, more substantial grant,” Hastings, who’s given previously to HBCUs, continued.

“This gift demonstrates that the wealthiest Americans who are philanthropic…can make a huge difference if they can expand their giving to include HBCUs,” said Lomax. “Patty and Reed are committed to justice.”

Taylor S. Hunter

Both Atlanta-based colleges, Spelman and Morehouse, appreciate the investment from Netflix, especially since both schools didn’t see a decline in admissions even as the nation continues to battle COVID-19 and racism.

“We’re also doing the work now to understand the wellness and needs of our students,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “For many of them, this was a traumatic event for them.”

“This is our time. We’re trying to connect their possibility positively to this time because this is a moment of possibility,” he added.


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