One of the country’s leading educational institutions for Black women in science, technology, engineering and math just became the recipient of the largest single donation ever given to a historically Black college or university, or HBCU, in the United States.
Spelman College, a liberal arts school for women in Atlanta that is ranked first among HBCUs by U.S. News World & Report, accepted a historic $100 million contribution that will help fund student life and scholarships for years to come.

“I’m just feeling overjoyed,” said Helene Gayle, the president of Spelman College, on “CBS Mornings” Thursday. “This is such a historic moment, and it will mean so much not only to the girls who are at Spelman now, but for young women far into the future. It’s just amazing.”

The vast majority of the donation will go toward endowed scholarships, Gayle said, which should allow the college to support students who are currently enrolled at Spelman and provide aid to others hoping to attend in the future.

Lovette Russell, chair of Spelman’s board of trustees, shared in an announcement on campus just how valuable that opportunity is for promising undergraduates and prospective undergraduates who deal with financial challenges that could thwart their path to a degree.

“As a student, I experienced the power of this historic institution and how it transforms the futures of talented young women,” said Russell, addressing a crowd of buzzing students gathered on campus. “I know that some of the brightest young women who dream about coming to Spelman are facing financial hardships and barriers toward higher education. What I am sharing with you today is a major step to ensure more young women can achieve their dreams.”

The remaining 25% of Spelman’s new donation will help fund housing and other critical projects at the school. Gayle described the gift as “transformative,” and noted that it opens doors to a wide range of exciting possibilities for a college where students and staff already “do so much with so little.”

“We have this incredible group of young women,” Gayle said. “They go on to be doctors, lawyers and scientists.”

The National Science Foundation has ranked Spelman among the top U.S. higher education institutions whose students go on to earn their Ph.D., and has ranked it specifically as the leading producer of Black women who subsequently earn their doctorates in STEM fields, according to the college.