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As the year comes to an end, the wave of support for historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country continues. Philander Smith College is one of the latest HBCUs to receive a historic donation.

The Little Rock-based institution was awarded a $2.5 million endowment; marking the largest individual gift the school has received in its 134-year history. The donation—which was given by an anonymous donor—will help fund Philander Smith College’s Generational Access and Affordability Program (GAAP). The initiative is designed to eradicate socio-economic barriers that impact access to higher education. The program aims to take a holistic approach to addressing the individual needs of students, so they don’t have to rely on student loans to advance their education. Research shows HBCU students are disproportionately affected by loan debt burdens.

“My heart overflows with gratitude and amazement for the level of transformational generosity by our anonymous donor,” Philander Smith College president Dr. Roderick L. Smothers said in a statement. “This monumental donation will provide tremendous opportunities for our scholars who hail from every walk of life. This gesture not only affects the lives of our students but communities across the nation. After two years of trudging through a pandemic, social unrest, and political change, we are beyond excited to be able to provide just what our scholars need to push through to the finish line. We are committed to our mission to graduate academically accomplished students grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better.”

Philander Smith College isn’t the only HBCU that received a historic donation from an anonymous donor this year. In August, Alabama A&M University was given a $2.2 million gift from an anonymous alum. “This gift is personal to me,” read a note that came with the donation. “This is my university, and it has afforded me opportunities beyond what I could have ever imagined.  It has been my life’s mission to make a sizeable investment in my alma mater.”


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