Citing the importance of “getting to know each other and cross-investing,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, have committed $120 million to support scholarships for students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Morehouse College and Spelman College will each receive $40 million, with the remaining $40 million going to the United Negro College Fund, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Because there’s so much social isolation in America, there’s just less awareness in the white community—certainly in my community—of the role that HBCUs have played over the last 150 years,” Hastings said. He and Quillin intend for their gift to help address that deficit and encourage giving by white donors to historically Black institutions, whose median endowment of $15.7 million is less than half of the $36.8 million median endowment of non-HBCUs.
Morehouse President David Thomas—former dean of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business—noted how meaningful it is that the gift is designated for scholarships, especially as he works toward the goal of making Morehouse need-blind in admissions. “To be where I want our college to be, which is need-blind, we need an endowment of roughly $1.2 billion,” Thomas said, nearly ten times its current endowment of $145 million.
Noting that Morehouse alumni have “done quite well” but that “I don’t think we have any billionaires,” Thomas said fundraising at the level of historically white schools is difficult. Michael L. Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, added that his organization’s endowment is $60 million, including the $40 million from Hastings and Quillin; amid the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “scale of the need” for his organization is $1 billion.
“I think white people in our nation need to accept that it’s a collective responsibility,” Hastings said.