Last week, Frank and Laura Day Baker announced a $1 million gift to Spelman College, a historically Black college in Atlanta, Georgia. The donation will cover the balances owed by nearly 50 students in Spelman’s graduating class this year to ensure they can receive their diploma and enter the workforce without that balance hanging over them.
The scholarship will cover the balance of these Spelman students and will create a new scholarship for future classes. According to a press release, this scholarship will “provide support to ensure that future high achieving graduating seniors have the financial resources to graduate” going forward.
Spelman College is a unique liberal arts college for women. According to Spelman, it is the country’s leading producer of Black women completing PhDs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“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. 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,” said the Bakers in a statement.
Frank Baker is the managing partner of Siris, a private equity firm. Laura Day Baker is a respected interior designer and philanthropist. The couple lives in New York City with their three children.
Last year, billionaire Robert R. Smith made a similar, though much larger, gift to another college in Atlanta. As the commencement speaker of Morehouse College, a historically Black college for men, he announced he would pay off the debts of nearly 400 graduates.
Colleges and universities rely heavily on donations to operate and keep tuition down. Typically donations have been used to fund scholarships to students on the front-end of their higher education experience to keep costs low. These gifts show a new trend paying debts for students at the end of their college experience.
Source: Forbe Billionaires