New App Brings Support for HBCUS

By Ida Harris

Financial support for historically Black colleges and universities has taken a turn toward innovation. A new micro-donation app called HBCU Change intersects technology with philanthropy. Founder Xavier Peoples hopes to raise $1 billion in five years for HBCUs. The app and fundraising initiative was officially launched on Aug. 1.

“HBCUs rely heavily on government funding and sporadic large donations to keep their doors open,” said Peoples. “HBCU Change was created as a model of consistency for HBCU fundraising year in and year out. It gives alumni and supporters a chance to change their university with ‘change.’”

In the same vein as innovative fundraising apps like Acorns and Stash, HBCU Change takes the amount of micro change that is left over from credit or debit purchases and transforms them into small but significant HBCU donations. Peoples projects an HBCU funding goal of $1 billion by 2025. HBCU Change could have a profound effect on monetary gifting by making it easier for alumni to donate digitally, and accessible for others who want to contribute to Black institutions on a consistent basis — as opposed to when schools fall into financial crisis.

This could be good news for HBCUs, particularly those that struggle financially and lack the sustainable endowment that is known to many predominantly white institutions. A 2017 Bloomberg analysis revealed that even the $578 million endowment that Howard University receives is a mere 2 percent of the $35.7 billion endowment Harvard University receives. Those numbers are a far cry from the $5 million Bennett College needed to keep its doors open after 146 years of operation. In 2019, the North Carolina HBCU found itself scrambling to raise funds to prevent the loss of accreditation and closure. In the race with time, the small women's college prevailed by the grace of aggressive fundraising and public charity.

“It’s estimated that all HBCUs endowments total $2.1 billion. When you consider that there are several single institutions of higher learning in this country that have more than $2.1 billion in their endowment, then you realize that $1 billion for 103 HBCUs is only the starting point,” said Peoples. “We have to think big and believe that our schools can have large endowments as well. It starts with us using group economics to support our schools on a consistent basis.”

To learn more about HBCU Change and support historically Black colleges and universities, check out the app website here.