Select HBCUs to receive funds to promote equity and inclusion in higher education
COLUMBIA, SC, July 6, 2023, The Historic Fund, a new venture capital fund, recently announced Benedict College as one of its 10 HBCU partners to be supported by an inaugural $10.35 million fund. The investment will support the growth of the endowments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“We are thankful for the opportunity to increase the college’s endowment while cultivating connectivity between our sister HBCUs,” said, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “This innovative partnership will further secure Benedict College’s future as the Historic Fund leverages its position at the intersection of HBCUs and venture capital communities.”
“We are grateful for our collaboration with the Historic Fund because our mission is to close the wealth gap in America through the lens of education. The endowments of HBCUs are significantly lower than that of other universities that may not have faced similar historical biases,” said Mr. Mark Brown, Executive Director of the Student Freedom Initiative. “We added up the endowments of 70 percent of the HBCUs and still did not have a total greater than the smallest endowment of our nation’s Ivy League schools. We know there are systemic reasons for this wealth gap, and the Historic Fund is aptly named and focused on helping bridge this gap.”
The Historic Fund is a unique philanthropic initiative that invites selected HBCUs to be limited partners without investing their own assets. Instead, the fund has initially raised capital from partners of nine participating venture capitalist funds: Acrew Capital, B Capital, Cowboy Ventures, First Round Capital, FirstMark Capital, Foundry, General Catalyst, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures. Each participating funder raised the capital to invest in this unique initiative, and each participating HBCU will receive roughly $1.35 million.
The fund’s goal is to foster more robust and diverse relationships at the collegiate level by partnering with HBCUs. The Student Freedom Initiative will cultivate those relationships and provide individual school-level support. The Student Freedom Initiative has policy expertise, programming, grant writing, and data to implement initiatives, like the Historic Fund, for economic growth and long-term social justice impact.
The Historic Fund will support a variety of under-represented fund managers through its stake in First Close Partners, a venture fund with the mission of making venture capital more inclusive through investments led by underrepresented managers. The participating HBCUs will function as traditional limited partners in a venture capital fund and will be free to use the returns as they wish. This experience also exposes students–and the schools–to the world and business of venture capital. Students will gain an understanding of what it takes to be an investor, a career path that traditionally lacks people of color.
The inaugural cohort of HBCUs includes Benedict College, Bennett College, Fisk University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, Tougaloo College, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University and Xavier University of Louisiana. These colleges were chosen because of their track record of producing talent and their commitment to students beyond graduation.
About Benedict College (benedict.edu)
Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution, offering 26 competitive baccalaureate degree programs. The Midlands HBCU welcomes students from all 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across America, and 26 countries around the world. The College also has a diverse faculty and importantly, 80 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty.
Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility and producing cutting-edge scholarship and research. In 2019, Benedict College received the 2019 ACE/ Fidelity Investments Awards for Institutional Transformation and was named the HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest. Benedict College was listed among the top half of ranked HBCUs in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges by US News and World Report.
Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Six of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work Program, Environmental Health Science Program, Environmental Engineering Program, Studio Art Program, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship
About Student Freedom Initiative
A single-purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative aims to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education. A student-centric, evidence-based, holistic and collaborative approach acts as the catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (“MSIs”), increasing students’ social and economic mobility. Initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Student Freedom Initiative enables mobility through four transformational components: (1) Student Freedom Fund as a private education loan alternative to Parent PLUS loans; (2) internships and industry-driven certifications; (3) comprehensive supports; and (4) targeted MSI capacity building (e.g., access to affordable broadband, strengthening endowment governance and risk adjusted returns, workforce development in clean energy). Student Freedom Initiative collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire MSI ecosystem.
To date, the Student Freedom Initiative has received generous contributions from Robert F. Smith, Fund 2 Foundation, Cisco, Jane Street, Prudential, First Republic and the Walmart Foundation. The program has also been acknowledged and supported by the Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education. The ability to support MSI students is based on the donations of those who believe in the mission of Student Freedom Initiative.
For more information about this release, please contact Ianta Summers Ianta@summerspublicaffairs.com.