Historically Black Colleges and Universities have long been at the center of economic development within the Black community by educating our country’s best and brightest and providing a host of employment opportunities.

In the wake of George Floyd’s tragic 2020murder, many corporations made promises to donate to our HBCUs as a way to show their solidarity with the Black community. Now more than two years later, while some of those promises have never materialized, some companies have invested in the futures of HBCUs and by default, the futures of our communities, by not only making a financial contribution, but also providing resources, opportunities and more. Morehouse and Spelman Colleges teamed up with MasterCard to launch the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CEB), while Bank of America partnered with Howard University to open the Center for Applied Data Science and Analytics. Speaking on a panel presented by Mastercard on the Wealth & Power stage during the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, CEB Director Melissa L. Bradley emphasized that deep-seated corporate partnerships like these go beyond just the money.

Howard University Professor William Southerland Challenges More Corporations To Go Bigger Than A One-Time Gift When Supporting HBCUs

“Being able to provide faculty support, being able to invest in research, being able to bring new technologies to the campus and of course, if anybody paid attention, we saw the massive launch of Ralph Lauren with Spelman and Morehouse and some people might say, was that really good,” she noted. “I can say that it was a huge economic driver for the universities and also, it allowed several students with an interest in the field to move into jobs.”

While monetary donations are welcomed, Howard University Professor William Southerland implored more corporations to thin beyond a one-time gift if they really want to make a difference.

“ For example, it’s very easy for an organization or company to make a contribution, but I woulds suggest that they think long-term and think about it from philanthropic partnering perspective and then they could really understand the needs of an institution and not just give a gift” he emphasized. “Solve the problem. Because, sometimes you can give a gift and yet the problem is still not solved.”

Check out the video above to hear the conversation in full. For more of everything you missed at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE.

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