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

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Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231

Impact-oriented coalition formed to drive tangible and long-term progress across HBCUs

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), UNCF (United Negro College Fund), 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.

The overall initiative is structured around six interdependent sub-initiatives that work in service of supporting all HBCUs:

  • Institutional improvement and innovation via TMCF, UNCF and the Partnership for Education Advancement
  • Institutional and intermediary capacity building to lead and sustain ongoing improvements
  • Pursue increased public funding for HBCUs to rectify historic inequities
  • Private capital campaign for endowments and sustainable reserves
  • Community and regional economic development partnerships
  • Reorienting the narratives surrounding HBCUs toward their outsized impact on social and economic mobility outcomes

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.

Although they represent just 3% 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 and 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.”

The initiative will be executed using a cohort model of select institutions. The inaugural participating HBCUs are listed below.

Cohort/Participating HBCUs

Alabama State University Morehouse College
Benedict College Norfolk State University
Claflin University North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University
Clark Atlanta University South Carolina State University
Delaware State University Spelman College
Dillard University Talladega College
Florida A&M University Tuskegee University
Hampton University University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Huston-Tillotson University Wiley University
Johnson C. Smith University Winston-Salem State University

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit:

About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF .

About the Partnership for Education Advancement

The Partnership for Education Advancement (Ed Advancement) is a 501(c)(3) committed to working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to advance their institutional capability and performance. Ed Advancement develops sustainable solutions to improve enrollment, student retention, graduation rates, career outcomes and institutional health in close collaboration with HBCU partners.

By developing deep partnerships with institutions and encouraging collaboration on shared services, Ed Advancement spurs individual and collective success across HBCUs.

Founded in 2018 by Tony James, Chairman of Jefferson River Capital, former Executive Vice Chairman of Blackstone Group, and Jim Runcie, former Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), Ed Advancement is currently partnering with 17 institutions that serves over 90,000 HBCU students, with a commitment to serve the entire HBCU community.

For more information:

About Blue Meridian Partners

Blue Meridian Partners is 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. To meet the scale of the problem, we provide transformative capital paired with capacity-building support and strategic guidance, empowering visionary leaders to dream bigger and vastly expand their impact, influence, and reach. With an investor mindset, we support strategies that address challenges from cradle to career, working both nationwide and within specific communities. We recognize that economic mobility is inextricably tied to racial equity. Therefore, we make investments that tackle systemic inequities that both hinder opportunity for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and other communities of color and limit the flow of capital to social sector leaders of color. Ultimately, Blue Meridian’s goal is to transform the philanthropic marketplace in order to improve the life trajectories of millions of young people and families across America.   

To date, Blue Meridian Partners has raised over $3 billion across its partnership group, which includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, The Ballmer Group, and several others.