Reed Hastings, the CEO and chairman of Netflix, and his wife Patty Quillin have donated $120 million to the UNCF, Spelman College, and Morehouse College — making it the largest-ever contribution by an individual in support of scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities.
“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,” Quillin and Hastings said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” the married couple continued.
Per The New York Times, Ivy League universities such as Harvard have endowments in the tens of billions of dollars, while HBCUs have endowments that are hundreds of millions of dollars.
“HBCUs have a tremendous record, yet are disadvantaged when it comes to giving. Generally, White capital flows to predominantly White institutions, perpetuating capital isolation,” Quillin and Hastings noted.
However, the couple are committed to reversing this trend.
Hastings, who has been active in education philanthropy and reform along with his wife, was quoted by The New York Times, saying, “I think white people in our nation need to accept that it’s a collective responsibility.”
Hastings was also quoted saying that the May 25 death of George Floyd — a 46-year-old unarmed Black man whose neck was pinned to the ground by white police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee — and the outrage that followed was “the straw that broke the camel’s back, I think, for the size of the donation.”
For the next 10 years, Spelman will use its allocation to provide 20 first-year students with full scholarships that will be named after alum Dovey Johnson Roundtree — a civil rights activist and lawyer whose 1955 bus desegregation case helped dismantle the practice of “separate but equal.”
“At the end of 10 years we will have educated 200 students who will graduate debt-free,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “It’s a liberating gift that will allow our students to work toward change in their respective communities and careers without financial strain.”