ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — In what administrators say is the largest donation in the institution’s 153-year history, Morehouse College is on the receiving end of $40 million dollars.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, both philanthropists, donated it to Morehouse’s Student Success Program for a fund that will help more than 200 students graduate graduate without college debt. Officials say the college is on track to raise more than a record $105 million this year with this donation.

In a press release, Morehouse explained what motivated Quillin and Hastings to provide financial support:

Quillin and Hastings made the donation because they support Morehouse’s mission, which is to develop men with disciplined minds who are focused on academic excellence, leadership, and service. The philanthropists also wanted to invest in Morehouse’s work as the national epicenter for thought leadership on civil rights. The college is committed to helping the nation to address the inequities caused by institutional racism, which have created disparities in income, employment, health, housing, and educational opportunities for people of African descent.

The Morehouse College Student Success Program, launched in 2019 by the Morehouse Board of Trustees, is one step toward addressing the income gap for blacks, who have the lowest median net worth of any racial group, according to the U.S. Census. The debt-erasing Student Success Program scholarship allows Morehouse Men to pursue advanced degrees, start careers, and build wealth without being tethered to undergraduate student loan debt related to their education at Morehouse. Nationwide, students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are more likely to graduate in debt because the schools disproportionately enroll students from low-income backgrounds who have to rely on federal student loans to pay for tuition.

In total, Quillin and Hastings have pledged $120 million this year to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). It includes the donation to Morehouse, $40 million to Spelman College and the remainder to the United Negro College Fund.

“We’ve supported these three extraordinary institutions for the last few years because we believe that investing in the education of black youth is one of the best ways to invest in America’s future,” said Quillin and Hastings. “Both of us had the privilege of a great education and we want to help more students—in particular students of color—get the same start in life. HBCUs have a tremendous record, yet are disadvantaged when it comes to giving. Generally, white capital flows to predominantly white institutions, perpetuating capital isolation. We hope this additional $120 million donation will help more black students follow their dreams and also encourage more people to support these institutions – helping to reverse generations of inequity in our country.”

Morehouse officials said the college will use the donation to create the Dr. Michael L. Lomax Student Success Scholarship, which is named after the UNCF chief executive and 1968 Morehouse graduate.

The donation comes at a time when, according to the U.S. Department of Education, America’s student loan debt exceeds $1.5 trillion, contributing to the existing wealth gap between many Black families and other racial groups.

Morehouse College President David A. Thomas says the gift is life-changing the college’s next generation of future leaders.

“I appreciate their generosity and confidence in Morehouse’s record as a voice for truth and justice for marginalized people in the world.”

The donation also comes at a time of heightened racial tensions and civil unrest, following incidents of police brutality and reports of rising unemployment for the Black population due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more background on the Student Success Program, click here.

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