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Spelman College Receives Historic $100 Million Gift: Empowering Black Women and Education

Spelman College Receives Historic $100 Million Gift: Empowering Black Women and Education


  1. Historic Donation: Spelman College receives a $100 million gift, believed the largest donation to an HBCU.
  2. Endowed Scholarships: A significant portion of the donation is dedicated to scholarships, enhancing access to education.
  3. Focus on Public Policy: The gift will also fund an academic focus on public policy and democracy, enriching Spelman's curriculum.
  4. Ronda Stryker’s Contribution: Stryker's longstanding relationship with Spelman as a trustee and philanthropist has been transformative.
  5. Empowerment and Legacy: This donation reinforces Spelman College's role as a leader in educating and empowering Black women.

Spelman College, a beacon of excellence amongst historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), has received a groundbreaking gift of $100 million. This historic donation, believed to be the largest single contribution ever made to an HBCU, comes from philanthropist Ronda E. Stryker, a trustee of Spelman, and her husband, William D. Johnston, chairman of the wealth management company Greenleaf Trust. Ms. Stryker serves as director of the medical equipment company Stryker Corporation, which was founded by her grandfather.

The Significance of the Donation

This monumental gift arrives as Spelman College celebrates a century since its renaming in 1924. Out of the total donation, $75 million is earmarked for endowed scholarships to attract top-tier students and break down financial barriers to enrollment at Spelman. The remaining $25 million is allocated to develop an academic focus on public policy and democracy, improvements in student housing, and meeting critical strategic needs.

Dr. Helene Gayle's Statement

Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College, expressed the college's gratitude and excitement over this act of generosity. She remarked, “We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible generosity. This gift is a critical step in our school’s mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education. We can’t thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There’s no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her.”

Ronda Stryker's Enduring Impact

Ronda Stryker, a Spelman College Trustee since 1997, has long championed women's empowerment through higher education and supported marginalized groups. Her commitment is reflected in the considerable impact this donation will have on the future of Spelman College, its students, and the broader community.

Spelman College: A Legacy of Excellence

Spelman College, founded in 1881, is a global leader in educating women of African descent. Known for producing Black women who complete Ph. D.s in STEM, the college has pioneered initiatives like the Department of Defense's designation as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM. Spelman's distinguished alumnae include influential leaders across various sectors, underscoring the college's role in shaping the future of Black women in America.

The $100 million gift to Spelman College is more than just a financial contribution; it's a testament to the power of investing in education and the future of young women. This donation marks a significant moment in the history of HBCUs and sets a precedent for the support and upliftment of institutions dedicated to the empowerment of marginalized communities.

About Spelman College

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,300 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.Ds. in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.Ds. in economics. New majors and minors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, data science, refugee studies and gaming. Collaborations have also been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute, and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, former Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, Federal Reserve Governor Lisa D. Cook, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University professor and former Dean Evelynn Hammonds, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones

Learn more at Spelman College and view a recap video of the day's celebration here