Reinvestment Fund today announced the inaugural investment into its new $25 million HBCU Brilliance Fund to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Lumina Impact Ventures (LIV) is investing $2 million in the Fund, which aims to provide technical and financial support that will position HBCUs to make critical investments in their facilities, financial stability, and long-term growth to better serve their institutional missions.
“LIV is excited to be making its first program-related investment (PRI) loan and its largest investment to date to strengthen HBCUs so they can better serve their students and communities,” says Christa Velasquez, director of LIV. “We admire and support community development financial institutions (CDFIs) like Reinvestment Fund that deploy capital in underinvested communities and provide hands-on technical assistance to its borrowers.”
Founded in response to America’s extreme segregationist education practices, HBCUs have always been beacons of the arts, politics, innovation and civic engagement for Black communities. However, these Black-led institutions have remained notoriously underfunded largely due to historic discrimination. The HBCU Brilliance Fund hopes to help shift how these institutions are valued and to get HBCUs the resources needed to better serve their students, faculty and staff and deepen their community impact.
“HBCUs have been misunderstood and undervalued for far too long,” said Yonina Gray, Director of External Relations and a driving force behind Reinvestment Fund’s HBCU work. “These are treasured assets that have championed the social and economic wellbeing of their students and surrounding community. We are delighted to have LIV lead the way to investing in these institutions through the HBCU Brilliance Fund.”
While HBCUs are experiencing unprecedented media attention and growth in philanthropic support, they remain severely underserved. Altogether, the 10 largest HBCU endowments in 2020 totaled $2 billion, compared to $200 billion across the top 10 Primarily White Institution endowments. The combined endowment for the 107 HBCUs in the country through 2019 was just over $3.9 billion. For context, New York University alone had an endowment of $4.3 billion that year.
As part of its mission to build more equitable communities that work for everyone, Reinvestment Fund has taken a three-pronged approach to pledging support to HBCUs by: 1) convening industry experts and stakeholders to improve cross-sector collaboration; 2) committing funding to provide affordable, flexible, mission-driven debt capital; and 3) advancing a public policy framework to advocate for equitable funding.
Since 2018, Reinvestment Fund has loaned nearly $35 million to HBCUs to support the financial health of their institutions and fund capital projects. These investments have included financing to Fisk University, Talladega College, Edward Waters University and Allen University. Reinvestment Fund is actively raising capital for the HBCU Brilliance Fund and is seeking additional investments from private and philanthropic funders who are committed to racial equity and justice. To learn more about Reinvestment Fund’s HBCU work or inquire about partnership opportunity, please contact Yonina.Gray@reinvestment.com.
Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that everyone has access to essential opportunities: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets, communities, and impediments to opportunity—and how investment and policy decisions can have the most powerful impact. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.7 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at reinvestment.com.
Lumina Impact Ventures serves as Lumina Foundation’s impact investing arm. Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.