How this HBCU raised $181.4M in donations in 8 years

North Carolina A&T received more than 20,000 gifts during the campaign, which is already paying dividends in research, new centers of excellence and scholarship assistance.

The philanthropic gifts from MacKenzie Scott to Historically Black Colleges and Universities – in the neighborhood of $410 million over the past year – have been transformational and highly publicized. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in fact, received $45 million in a generous donation from Scott last December.

Garnering far fewer headlines but just as important in building toward future goals and stemming expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the tireless behind-the-scenes work happening at institutions such as North Carolina A&T.

Aside from Scott’s poweful gift, the university managed to pull in nearly $140 million more in its eight-year Campaign for North Carolina A&T. Its original goal was $85 million … so it beat it by almost $100 million.

“More than 21,300 donors took a hard look at North Carolina A&T and invested in its promise and potential,” said Chancellor Harold Martin Sr. “Our students, faculty and academic programs earned those investments, and the total of that generosity is a reflection of the quality of this community of scholars. We’re grateful for what this says about our university now, and excited about what it means for our future.”

The donations included more than $1 million apiece from 35 separate corporations and individuals, which has helped raise North Carolina A&T’s assets to over $153 million, which it says is the most of any HBCU and includes its own A&T Real Estate Foundation for land and property holdings. When it started fundraising back in 2012, its endowment $28 million.

The campaign totals are believed to be the highest among all of those colleges and universities, and alumni drove much of its success. All told, more than 14,800 graduates gave back to the university – 70% of all donations pulled in – including two large gifts from leaders Willie Deese and John and Kathy Hairston, who had the College of Business and Economics and the College of Health and Human Sciences named in their honor, respectively.

How the campaign got rolling

The gifts started coming in earnest in Fiscal Year 2017, when North Carolina A&T received just shy of $15 million. Since then, it hit or surpassed that same number until FY 2021, when it received an astounding $88 million, led by Scott’s pledge.

“It seems as though only yesterday, we were announcing the public phase of the campaign and hoping we might reach $100 million,” said campaign co-chair Royall Mack. “The degree by which we exceeded that total is remarkable, but it is no accident. This is only the beginning of what is possible for North Carolina A&T, and I believe the coming years will bear that out emphatically.”

North Carolina A&T said it already has earmarked the bulk of those campaign dollars toward “current initiatives to support the university’s ambitious strategic plan goals and build on its very public growing momentum.” That momentum includes several national superlatives, including being the highest-ranked HBCU on Money magazine’s Best Colleges in America in 2020.

The university said the campaign dollars are being utilized in a number of ways to grow its stature and assist faculty and students, including:

  • 270 new scholarship funds, plus merit-based February One scholarships starting with the next incoming class, named in honor of the university’s four civil rights activists of 1960.
  • New Centers of Excellence in several fields: product design and advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship, health and human sciences, education and liberal arts.
  • Startup research and faculty needs related to laboratory equipment, computing infrastructure, graduate student support and more.

“The funds raised in this campaign are making possible a great many things that some longstanding research universities may take for granted, and the excitement around that makes its own mighty contribution to the success and momentum of our university,“ Deese said. “This campaign has shown us the future of A&T, and it is very bright, indeed.”

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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