Newswire: Robert F. Smith , Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan Frank Bakers and William Pickard top list of Black donors to HBCUs

five top donors

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott’s $560 million donation last year to 23 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) made headlines across the country at a time when racial equity has become front-page news. However, for decades Black leaders in business, entertainment, education, and other fields have been the main sources of philanthropic donations to HBCUs.
A recent Washington Post story found that Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than their white counterparts – to the tune of around $11 billion each year. Given their cultural and educational importance to the Black community, HBCUs are the repository of much of these donations with a number of household names – and some you may not know – making big-dollar contributions to these institutions.

Here are some of the most prominent Black philanthropists to donate to HBCUS:
Robert F. Smith – Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners 

Smith, the billionaire investor behind the software private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, drew widespread praise in May 2019 when he announced that he and his family would pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class of 396 students. Along with paying off the student debt, Smith’s $35 million donation also helped establish the Student Success Program to reduce or eliminate debt for all Morehouse grads. The private equity guru also gave the school an additional $1.5 million to create the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program and build a park on campus.
As board chair of the Student Freedom Initiative – a plan to provide STEM students at HBCUs with a family-centric, income-contingent payment alternative to high-cost, fixed-payment debt – Smith pledged $50 million. Smith’s donation jumpstarted the initiative, which hopes to raise $500 million for the effort and began operations in the fall of 2021 at eleven HBCUs.

“Each year, thousands of Black graduates from HBCUs across America enter the workforce with a crushing debt burden that stunts future decisions and prevents opportunities and choices,” Smith said. “The initiative is purposefully built to redress historic economic and social inequities and to offer a sustainable, scalable platform to invest in the education of future Black leaders.”
Oprah Winfrey, Television Personality, Philanthropist, Author, Entrepreneur & Actress

Most people may know the philanthropic acts of Oprah – who, like Beyoncé, Prince, and Zendaya needs no further introduction – through the infamous “You get a Car!” episode of her talk show, but she is also quietly, one of the biggest donors to HBCUs in the country.
In 2019, Oprah donated $13 million to Morehouse College to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program at the HBCU. Overall, Oprah has donated at least $25 million to the Atlanta school. “I felt that the very first time I came here,” Oprah said. “The money was an offering to support that in these young men. I understand that African American men are an endangered species. They are so misunderstood. They are so marginalized.”

Besides her gift to Morehouse, Oprah also donated $1.5 million to the United Negro College Fund to help pay for scholarships for Black students and general scholarship funds for 37 private HBCUs.
Frank Baker – Founder and Managing Partner of Siris Capital

Baker, the founder of private equity firm Siris, along with his wife, interior designer Laura Day Baker, donated $1 million in May 2020 to establish a scholarship fund at Atlanta’s Spelman College, the oldest private historically Black liberal arts college for women.
Initially, the scholarship paid off the existing spring tuition balances of nearly 50 members of Spelman’s 2020 graduating class and the remaining funds are meant to ensure that future high achieving graduating seniors have the financial resources to graduate.
“We are all aware of the headwinds that people of color — especially women — face in our country, the challenges of which are made even more apparent by the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the couple said in a press release. “We believe it is critical that talented women finish college and confidently enter – free of undue financial stress – the initial stage of their professional careers.

William F. Pickard – Businessman, Co-owner of Real Times Media 

Detroit businessman and philanthropist Pickard has a long history of donating to HBCUs across the country. Most recently Pickard and his cousin, Cincinnati businessman Judson W. Pickard Jr., donated $2 million to Morehouse College to create the Pickard Scholars Program. This program will recruit and support Black students from metro Detroit, Flint, greater Cincinnati, and LaGrange, Georgia to attend the Atlanta HBCU.
“People have uplifted and helped me grow and I believe in blessing others,” Pickard, whose children attended Morehouse, told the Atlanta Tribune. “Our gifts are given to where we are from and those who have invested in us and who we are.”
The Pickard Family Foundation also donated $100,000 to the National Black MBA Association to create the William F. Pickard Business Scholarship Fund. The fund is open to qualified business student members at several HBCUs who need help financing their education.
Michael Jordan – Former NBA Superstar 

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and is almost single-handedly responsible for transforming the game into the global phenomenon it is today. So, if anybody knows how to make an impact on HBCUs, it would be His Airness.
The six-time NBA champion and five-time league MVP, along with Nike’s Jordan Brand, donated $1 million last year to Morehouse College to boost the school’s journalism and sports-related studies program. The donation is meant to bolster a program launched thanks to the donation of another icon, director Spike Lee.
“Education is crucial for understanding the Black experience today,” Jordan said in a press release. “We want to help people understand the truth of our past and help tell the stories that will shape our future.”

The donation to Morehouse is part of a pledge made by Jordan and his brand in 2020 to donate $100 million over the next ten years to combat racism across the country.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and is the Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) television show broadcast weekly on PBS TV stations throughout the United States.

Newswire: Rihanna tops $1 Billion in net worth

Rihanna singing

Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

You can call her Ri-Ri, wear her Savage X lingerie or Fenty perfume. And Rihanna wouldn’t mind. But the pop superstar and business mogul probably doesn’t mind anyone calling her a billionaire. According to Forbes magazine, the 33-year-old Barbadian beauty has achieved billionaire status. With an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, the Grammy winner now counts as the wealthiest female musician globally. The “Work” singer only trails Oprah Winfrey as the world’s richest entertainer. “A lot of women felt there were no lines out there that catered to their skin tone. It was light, medium, medium-dark, dark,” Shannon Coyne, co-founder of consumer products consultancy Bluestock Advisors, told Forbes. “We all know that’s not reality. She was one of the first brands that came out and said, ‘I want to speak to all of those different people.’” Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados, the tantalizing starlet delivered hit after hit with songs like “Umbrella,” “Rude Boy,” and “Diamonds.” With well over 100 million social media followers, Rihanna’s fans have pleaded with their idol to deliver new music. But with her Fenty and Savage X Fenty business white-hot, Rihanna appears to have settled in as an entrepreneur and business magnate. Cutting deals with Puma in 2014, Dior in 2016, Fenty Beauty in 2017, Savage X Fenty in 2018, and Fenty Skin in 2020, Rihanna kept her business-focused. Forbes writer Madeline Berg described Rihanna’s rise this way: “When Robyn Fenty, known to the world as Rihanna, launched Fenty Beauty in 2017, she sought to create a cosmetics company that made “women everywhere (feel) included.” A perhaps unintended consequence: The beauty line has helped her enter one of the world’s most exclusive ranks: Billionaire.” Berge concluded by providing commentary from Coyne, the consultant. “She is creating a brand outside of herself. It’s not just about Rihanna. Even if you don’t like her music, she’s created a real style in the fashion and beauty space.”

Newswire: Breonna Taylor’s family to receive $12 million settlement from Louisville; no police charged yet

Breonna Taylor

by Derek Major, Black Enterprise News Service

Six months after the night Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers, city officials have agreed to pay her family $12 million as part of a wrongful death settlement.
The settlement of the lawsuit brought by Taylor’s family was announced Tuesday by the family’s legal team and city officials. In addition to the multi-million-dollar settlement, the city of Louisville has agreed to institute a number of reforms to the city’s policing tactics.
The changes include imposing more scrutiny on officers during the execution of search warrants. The settlement will also make safeguards that should have been followed by officers, mandatory.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep the night of March 13 when Louisville Metro Police barged into her home with a no-knock warrant in relation to a drug investigation. The noise woke Taylor, who believed someone was trying to break-in. Walker, who is a registered gun owner, fired a shot toward their bedroom door.
The police responded, firing a bevy of shots toward the couple and hitting Taylor five times. One of the three officers who fired shots at Taylor has been fired for displaying “an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor,” according to the officer’s termination letter, which was posted to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Twitter account.
Taylor’s death and George Floyd’s, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May, kicked off a summer of nationwide protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as well calls to defund the police in many states and reallocate funds into social services.
Both the former first lady Michelle Obama and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris called out Taylor’s name at the Democratic National Convention last month. Oprah Winfrey erected dozens of billboards demanding justice,  WNBA players have placed her name on their jerseys, and 2020 U.S. Open Champion Naomi Osaka wore the name of Taylor and other Black victims of police brutality on her face masks in her pre- and post-match interviews.
Many are still waiting to see if charges will be brought against the three officers who shot Taylor.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last week that he will present Taylor’s case before a Louisville grand jury at an undisclosed location. According to the Times, however, since the officers were fired upon first, legal experts say their actions may be protected under a state statute allowing officers to use lethal force as self-defense.
Once the grand jury decides if the case will go forward, Cameron will make a public announcement to share his office’s investigative findings and the grand jury’s decision on possible indictments for the three officers who fired their weapons that night.
Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way said the settlement was pertinent but that does not mean the issue has been finalized. “Today’s civil settlement between the city of Louisville, Kentucky, and Breonna Taylor’s family is appropriate and necessary in the pursuit of justice, but no amount of money can replace the life of a loved one. While police reforms are included in the settlement, justice has not been fully served because the police officers who killed Breonna remain free. Those officers must be criminally charged and banned from law enforcement. We believe all communities deserve to be safe and Breonna Taylor deserves justice.”

Newswire : Patrick Gaspard to receive prestigious NAACP Spingarn Medal

Patrick Gaspard

BALTIMORE – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, has announced that Ambassador Patrick Gaspard will be awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal during the NAACP’s 110th Annual Convention taking place in Detroit, Michigan on July 24.

The award recognizes Gaspard’s lifelong commitment to equality and civil rights. Gaspard, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved with his parents to the United States when he was three years old. He served as political director for President Barack Obama in the White House and as the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, overseeing the party committee’s efforts to re-elect President Obama.
In 2013, President Obama nominated Gaspard to the post of United States ambassador to South Africa. He worked to strengthen civil society and worked in partnership with the South African government to develop the country’s healthcare infrastructure and to support innovations in local governance. He also worked to connect South African entrepreneurs to United States markets; develop clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies; and to end wildlife trafficking.

“Patrick Gaspard is a global champion for civil and human rights. Hiscontributions to campaigns to end police brutality, improve access to affordable health care, and increase dignity for working families is unparalleled,”said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO.For over 100 years, we have honored leaders who have served as pillars in the fight for justice and this year’s selection of the Patrick Gaspard is no exception.”
“The NAACP has been a beacon and an inspiration to me my entire life; Its leaders blazed the trails we now walk, and helped make my career, and the careers of countless other organizers and activists, possible,” said Gaspard. “The previous recipients of this incredible honor are among my greatest heroes, who showed us what dedication and the courage of our convictions could achieve. To be in their company is beyond humbling. I am enormously grateful for this recognition, and will do all that I can to try, now and in the years to come, to live up to its promise.”
“Ambassador Gaspard’s service within the Labor Movement as well as his tenure as a member of the Obama administration has always inured to the benefit of all Americans,” said Leon W. Russell, NAACP Chairman, National Board of Directors. “His service in the diplomatic corps as Ambassador to South Africa during a challenging period of that nation’s development was stellar.”
The NAACP Spingarn award was established in 1914 by the late Joel E. Spingarn then Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. It was given annually until his death in 1939. The medal is awarded “for the highest or noblest achievement by a living African American during the preceding year or years.” A fund to continue the award was set up by his will, thus, the NAACP has continued to present this award. Previous recipients of this award include: Mrs. Daisy Bates (Little Rock Nine), Jesse L. Jackson, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Earl G. Graves Sr., Oprah Winfrey, Cecily Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier and the Honorable Nathaniel Jones. Tickets to the Spingarn Dinner can be purchased on the NAACP Convention website here.

Other highlights will include a Presidential Candidates Forum, a legislative session, a CEO Roundtable, LGBTQ workshop plus the highly anticipated NAACP Experience retail expo and diversity career fair. More information about the 110thAnnual NAACP National Convention, including a detailed schedule of events may be found by visiting Media interested in covering the event should apply for press credentials here.

Newswire:  Global Citizens Fest honors Mandela legacy amidst huge crowd of Beyonce fans

Dec. 3, 2018 (GIN) – A massive turnout of die-hard fans of superstars Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z filled every available square inch of the Johannesburg FNB stadium for the closing night of the Global Citizen Festival organized to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and raise $1 billion to address poverty, food security, global health and other social issues. Beyonce and Jay-Z were the headline act for the standing room only closing affair that featured a 90 minute performance with the popular superstars that included a rendition of her 2008 single “Halo” accompanied by a South African choir. Those watching the show online, which also included appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Usher, Trevor Noah and Naomi Campbell, were only allowed to see 25 minutes of the two hour-plus set which caused bitter complaints across social media. Among the highlights of the free-ticketed event was a promise by billionaire Patrice Motsepe to give $250 million to support farming and agriculture in South Africa. Other major partners include Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Big Concerts, House of Mandela, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and Associate Partner, HP. “Global Citizens have generated commitments and policy announcements from leaders valued at over $37.9 billion that are set to affect the lives of more than 2.25 billion people. This year alone Global Citizens have secured 29 commitments totaling over $2.9 billion that are set to affect the lives of more than 501 million people by 2030,” organizers reported. As the exhausted fans left the stadium, however, joy turned to horror as the perimeter of the area was at a standstill with major traffic congestion, lack of public transportation and an absence of security, allowing robberies, violence and complete disorder to flourish. Much of this was documented on social media. Concert-goer and witness Catherine Constantinides, director of the Miss Earth SA program, said “it was more than mugging and taking phones”. “You prayed with your life not to be stabbed, punched or brutally attacked, all of which I witnessed,” she wrote on her verified Twitter account. The charity event also left a worrying question to be answered. Who would administer the giant sums promised – the government or the donors? An answer to that question should be forthcoming.