UNCF Receives $100 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Support Capital Campaign

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Roy Betts UNCF Communications 240.703.3384 roy.betts@uncf.org

UNCF’s bold $1 billion campaign will enhance endowments at HBCUs

During a press conference held today at Clark Atlanta University, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) announced that Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $100 million unrestricted grant to support UNCF’s capital campaign.

UNCF is undertaking a bold $1 billion capital campaign that includes five components: student scholarships, unrestricted funds to enhance the endowments for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), capacity-building programs for member HBCUs (such as technology, training and research), cash reserves and endowed funds for UNCF and support for UNCF’s annual campaign.

“Since our founding in 1944, Lilly Endowment has been a consistent and significant philanthropic supporter. This $100 million grant is the largest unrestricted private grant we have ever received. It follows a $50 million grant from Lilly Endowment in 2015 that enabled UNCF to launch the Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), which sought to strengthen the programs and capabilities of HBCUs to enhance career outcomes for students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.

After careful consideration on how to utilize Lilly Endowment’s unrestricted grant, UNCF has decided to deploy it to the capital campaign’s objective of building a pooled endowment fund that will increase the endowments at UNCF’s 37 member institutions by $10 million each.

“Lilly Endowment’s unrestricted grant will be used as UNCF’s initial investment toward the establishment of an HBCU pooled endowment fund of $370 million,” Lomax said.

The objective is to increase the unrestricted endowment for each of UNCF’s 37 member institutions by $10 million, or a total of $370 million. Through its capital campaign, UNCF will raise $185 million, or $5 million per institution. It will collaborate with the institutions to match this contribution through their own fundraising efforts. This infusion of $100 million will immediately increase each UNCF member’s endowment by $2.7 million, at least doubling the endowments of several institutions.

“We plan to establish endowments for our member HBCUs that will be pooled and managed at UNCF. They will become permanent assets of the institutions. Rising tides do lift all boats and UNCF is committed to making this a reality because 100 percent of this grant will be used to enhance the endowments at our 37 member colleges and universities. We believe this is the most prudent way to use Lilly Endowment’s transformational support,” said Lomax.

Pooled endowments can offer several benefits to HBCUs, including increased investment power to access a wider range of investment opportunities in stocks, bonds and real estate that can potentially generate higher returns. In addition, pooled endowments promote collaboration and networking among HBCUs, which can lead to enhanced fundraising efforts, increased visibility and improved financial stability.

Research from UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute found that the median endowment for UNCF member institutions is $15.9 million. After the successful completion of the capital campaign, the median will grow to $25.9 million, an increase of 63%, bringing it closer to the median private college endowment of $214.6 million as determined by the National Association of College University Business Officers (NACUBO).

“For nearly 80 years, Lilly Endowment has supported UNCF’s efforts to strengthen its member institutions and thereby enhance the educational attainment of their students,” said N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s chairman and CEO. “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.”

“This grant from Lilly Endowment is far-reaching and long-lasting. It will change the financial trajectory of many HBCUs for many years to come. We are incredibly grateful for Lilly Endowment’s continued support of UNCF and higher education,” said Marc Barnes, senior vice president, capital campaign, UNCF. “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.”

UNCF Board Chair Milton H. Jones, Jr., affirmed Barnes’ comments. “I commend Lilly Endowment for their ongoing commitment and support of UNCF and its member institutions. This historic grant is going to provide great momentum for our capital campaign and now serves as a catalyst for others in the philanthropic community to join us as we take our member HBCUs to the next level.”

Clark Atlanta University President and Chair of UNCF’s Institutional Board Dr. George T. French, Jr., said, “Today’s announcement is a major accomplishment and will provide unprecedented support for the financial stability and continued success of UNCF’s member institutions. Our campuses stand ready to work with UNCF to accomplish the $370 million goal for the pooled unrestricted endowment.”


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. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. 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 50,000 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 UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc.  is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although the Endowment funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.