The economic impact of HBCUs – $14.8 billion annually

For too long historically black colleges and universities have been asked to answer for their very existence. “What is the value of an HBCU?” is an often-asked question. Is that a reasonable question? How many other educational institutions are asked to justify their very existence over and over again? “Why do we need HBCUs?”  “Isn’t that about segregation?”

The United Negro College Fund has stepped to the plate and answered the question with their new report: HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This just released report documents a collective $14.8 billion economic impact. It looks at the economic impact on local communities and regions, the country as a whole, and individual students.

Here are a few excerpts from the report

  • In total, the nation’s HBCUs generate $14.8 billion in economic impact annually; that’s equivalent to a ranking in the top 200 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. This estimate includes direct spending by HBCUs on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations, and by students attending the institutions, as well as the follow-on effects of that spending.
  • Every dollar in spending by an HBCU and its students produces positive economic benefits, generating $1.44 in initial and subsequent spending for its local and regional economies. Many HBCUs are in regions of the country where overall economic activity has been lagging, making the colleges’ economic contributions to those communities all the more essential.
  • Each $1 million initially spent by an HBCU and its students creates 13 jobs.
  • The nation’s HBCUs generate 134,090 jobs in total for their local and regional economies— equivalent to the jobs provided by Oracle, the nation’s 48th largest private employer.
  • Today, there are 101 accredited HBCUs, public and private, concentrated in 19 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They enroll almost 300,000 students, approximately 80 percent of whom are African American, and 70 percent are from low-income families.
  • The 50,000-plus HBCU graduates in 2014 can expect total earnings of $130 billion over their lifetimes—that’s 56 percent more than they could expect to earn without their college credentials.
  • On an individual basis: An HBCU graduate working full time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $927,000 in additional income due to a college credential.

Read it yourself online at

Copyright 2017 – Mel Shaw and Pearl Shaw, CFRE

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.