In light of the fight for racial justice after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and way too many other unarmed black people, Netflix founder Reed Hastings has made the biggest donation to racial justice in the form of a $120 million gift to America's historically black colleges and universities, colloquially known as HBCUs. The donation is the first to exceed $100 million for this cause from any billionaire individual or couple. He is the first of the Silicon Valley set to make such a generous donation towards racial justice as well.
Hastings is donating $40 million each to Morehouse College and Spelman College as well as another $40 million to the United Negro College Fund, which awards (and funds) scholarships to historically black schools. Hastings' donations increase the endowments of the HBCUs quite a bit. HBCUs typically have much smaller endowments than other colleges and universities. Spelman has a $390 million endowment. Morehouse's is $145 million. The United Negro College Fund's is $100 million. The top three schools with the biggest endowments are Harvard at $38.3 billion, the University of Texas with $30.8 billion, and Yale with $29.3 billion. USC, my alma mater, sits at #21 with $5.54 billion. Brian, Celebrity Net Worth's esteemed leader's alma mater Georgetown, sits at #60 with $1.735 billion.
Billionaires are being scrutinized more than ever over the amount they donate to philanthropy and the tax breaks they get from it – especially when they are donating tens of millions or hundreds of millions to elite colleges with enormous endowments. Most of the colleges and universities with the top 25-30 richest endowments can fund their programs off the interest on their endowments alone.
In a statement about the donation to the HBCUs, Hastings spoke about how privileged he and his wife were to be able to get a great education. He mentioned that he wants to help more students, particularly students of color, to be able to have the same advantage of a good education. Hastings also said that he hopes his donation helps more black students follow their dreams. He also urged other people, especially his fellow billionaires, to support HBCUs and help reverse generations of racial inequality in America.
Most of the donations to date from Silicon Valley's billionaires and tech companies have been smaller than Hastings' and focused on other, broader, causes. Apple and YouTube each pledged $100 million towards investments in the black community. Facebook donated $10 million for racial justice causes – but didn't identify what those causes were. Netflix, Hastings' company, pledged $5 million earlier this week to fund black creators and black businesses.
Overall, companies and individuals in the U.S. have pledged roughly $2 billion towards racial justice since the murder of George Floyd. Michael Jordan made the biggest individual gift prior to Hastings at $100 million. Kanye West is sending Floyd's daughter to college. Barbra Streisand is donating shares of Disney to Floyd's daughter.
George Floyd didn't deserve to die for using a counterfeit $20 bill. His death, however, will change the world. It already has. We just have to keep moving racial justice forward and call out racists. There's no room for racism in the world today. After all, we can no more help the color of skin we are born with than we can the color eyes we have. It's time to step up, donate, be an activist, and call out that racist uncle or grandparent. We have to be allies. Our black brothers' and sisters' lives depend on it.