Netflix CEO billionaire Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin announced on Wednesday that they donated $120 million to fund scholarships at historically black colleges and universities in what is considered the largest such individual endowment.
"We wanted to do our part to draw attention, in this case, to the HBCU's 150 years of resilience, of educating young black people and the stories not well understood in the white community," Hastings said.
The United Negro College Fund awards more than $100 million in scholarships to more than 10,000 students a year. It also helps financially support 37 historically black colleges and universities.
The couple told CBS News they planned to donate $20 million each to the school but decided to double it because the need is so great. They also declined to have the scholarships in their name, preferring the gift symbolize “great black achievement.”
The funds will help disadvantaged students so they can focus on their education, Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College, told NBC News.
“It’s a statement from Patty and Reed of great faith in our students and faith in our institutions,” Campbell said. “It’s going to mean that every year we’re going to be able to identify 20 high-performing students, high-need students and say to them ‘you get to go to college debt-free.’”
The donation will help Morehouse achieve its goal of creating a $500-million endowment, the Los Angeles Times reported. Now, Morehouse College President David Thomas plans to raise the goal.
“We’ve done the calculations. To be where I want our college to be, which is need-blind, we need an endowment of roughly $1.2 billion,” he said.
Hastings has been involved in education reform since the 1990s, NBC News reported.
He is building a 2,100-acre luxury ranch in Colorado as a foundation and training center for public school teachers, Vox reported. In 2016, Hastings established a $100 million education fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, of which $1.5 million went to the United Negro College Fund, the Times reported.
“The times are the most stressed, the most painful, that we’ve ever seen in our lives,” Hastings told MSNBC. “But out of that pain can come some opportunity, too. And maybe this will be the moment things change.”
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