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Amid the public health crisis, obstacles faced by historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country have been exacerbated. Individuals and organizations are rallying around HBCUs to ensure they will be around for generations to come. According to Memphis Commercial Appeal, LeMoyne-Owen College recently received a $40 million gift.

The endowment—which is the largest grant the Memphis-based institution has ever received—was given by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. The philanthropic organization manages charitable funds from a wide range of donors. Like many other collegiate institutions the school has transitioned to virtual learning. As nearly 90 percent of its student body qualifies for financial assistance, the college has launched initiatives to provide them with housing, electronics and WiFi in an effort to eliminate socio-economic barriers that stand in the way of education.

“Many of our students and their families were already struggling, even before COVID-19. Recent demonstrations have heightened our awareness and commitment to do more to address the inequality and racism that has led to their financial challenges and the critical need to create a more equal and just world,” Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, who serves as interim president at LeMoyne-Owen College, said in a statement. “The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis has generously and courageously helped LeMoyne-Owen College take a huge step forward in educating our future leaders and providing a stronger financial foundation from which to grow.”

The $40 million fund will go towards scholarships and the evolution of academic initiatives to prepare students for the workforce. Bob Fockler, who serves as president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, says the donation is a part of his organization’s mission to make a concerted effort to “more actively address needs of the community.”

Other HBCUs that have received large endowments during the pandemic include Spelman College and Morehouse College.

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