The president of Spelman College, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, says the greatest economic collapse in modern American history put a severe strain on the students attempting to matriculate through this esteemed institution in Atlanta.
Under Tatum’s leadership, the HBCU giant has launched the most ambitious capital fundraising campaign in Spelman’s 128-year history, a goal to raise over $150 million, in part to ensure as many young women walk across the graduation stage as possible. Spelman is already more than halfway to that lofty goal of $80 million, as it looks to graduate 5,000 women in the next 10 years.
“What we’re seeing at Spelman is that many families are struggling,” Tatum says. “The unemployment rate in the African American community is about double that of the white community. The impact of the recession has been significant. And so we see that students today have a greater level of need to be able to continue their education. And the lending community has also been more challenged. So students who qualified for loans last year may not be able to qualify for loans this year.”
Such a dilemma significantly impairs students’ ability to afford higher education or continue without interruption. As it stands, over 40 percent of students at Spelman qualify for Pell grants. Therefore, Spelman is aiming to supplement the financial aid they are able to offer students.
“If you want to invest in the future of this country, indeed the world, you have to invest in the human capital,” Tatum says. “Young women who are choosing to be at Spelman are ready and willing to put the determination and commitment into their education, so they can solve the problems that wait for them when they graduate. Yet they have to be able to graduate.”