Georgetown University, Jesuits pledge $27M to foundation focused on educational advancement and racial healing for Descendant communities

In early September, the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation announced $27 million in commitments from Georgetown University and the Society of Jesus toward the foundation’s efforts to address the legacies of enslavement in the United States and promote racial healing across the country. The funds will also help aid elderly Descendants and support the educational aspirations of Descendants of Jesuit slaveholding by providing scholarships from early childhood through postsecondary education, The Washington Post says. In July, the foundation announced it was partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide scholarships of up to $10,000 a year.

The $27 million, which includes $10 million from Georgetown and $17 million from the Jesuits, is part of an ambitious plan to raise $100 million, and ultimately $1 billion, for the foundation. Georgetown, which holds a seat on the board, provided the foundation with a $1 million implementation grant in 2021 when it was first established.

“The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation has put forth an extraordinary vision—to uplift Descendant communities, support the educational aspirations of Descendants, and promote racial healing in our nation,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in the foundation’s statement announcing the contributions. “It is an honor for our University to have the opportunity to contribute to their efforts. The difficult truths of our past guide us in the urgent work of seeking and supporting reconciliation in our present and future.”

Inaugurating a new interdisciplinary center

The donation to the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation is part of Georgetown’s ongoing efforts to more deeply understand, confront, and respond to its own history and the legacies of enslavement in the U.S.

Georgetown also recently celebrated the establishment of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies, a new interdisciplinary center that facilitates research, public programs, and creative projects to deepen knowledge about the history of enslavement and its lasting impact. The launch event included a live musical performance of Grammy-nominated “Requiem for the Enslaved,” composed and performed by Associate Professor Carlos Simon, to honor the 272 individuals who were enslaved and sold by the Maryland Province of the Jesuits in 1838. 

Advancing projects that support Descendant communities

In addition, this fall, Georgetown will be awarding the second phase of its Reconciliation Fund grants. The fund provides $400,000 per year to projects that benefit communities of Descendants. Georgetown awards two phases of grants each year, with five inaugural recipients of the fund announced last spring. The Reconciliation Fund will begin accepting applications for the second year of the fund this fall.

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