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The University of the District of Columbia is one of the latest institutions to receive a historic donation amongst the wave of support for HBCUs throughout the country. The institution closed out 2021 with a multi-million endowment from an anonymous donor.

The $2.3 million donation—which marks the largest private gift the school has received in its 171-year history—will go towards the university’s Developing America’s Workforce Nucleus (DAWN) initiative; fostering the creation of scholarships for Black and brown students who are in need of financial support. UDC has used its DAWN program to build a pipeline of talent in the STEM industry. The DAWN Deans’ Scholarships by Degree and Programs initiative will provide aid for undergraduate students and workforce development programs under the school’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration and College of Arts and Sciences. The Community College and Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning will also receive funding through the donation. Under the umbrella of DAWN is the Deans’ Community Leaders Scholarship initiative which was cultivated to support students who have displayed their dedication to civic engagement. It will be funded under the endowment as well.

“UDC and its predecessor institutions have educated District residents for over 170 years,” the University of the District of Columbia’s president Ronald Mason Jr. said in a statement. “We are so grateful to the anonymous donor for stepping forward with such a generous gift that will help ensure UDC continues to drive the social mobility of its students and develop the next generation of leaders. Through the newly-created DAWN Scholarships, the gift will allow more students –especially those from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged groups –to pursue their educational goals while reducing their financial burdens.”

Several HBCUs have received historic anonymous donations. Philander Smith College was gifted with a $2.5 million endowment to advance its Generational Access and Affordability Program.


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