Catalyzing Change: IEN’s HBCU Endowment Growth Workshop Highlights

In the heart of Long Beach, on the 11th of February, the 2024 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit commenced with the resonant voices of institutional leaders and industry experts gathered for the 2nd IEN's HBCU Endowment Growth Workshop. The gathering set the stage for a transformative dialogue on sustainable and mission-aligned investment and advancing sustainable capital growth at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The event convened a diverse group of 32 participants, including HBCU presidents, trustees, finance officers, and fundraising experts, representing 25 institutions such as Talladega College, Dillard University, NC A&T State University, and Lincoln University and many more for deliberate, collaborative, and strategically minded discussions geared towards supporting mission aligned, sustainable endowment growth at HBCUs.

The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), a peer learning network focused on supporting endowments mission-align investing, organized this workshop to spark open conversations on best practices and strategies for HBCUs' endowment growth.



Amidst the backdrop of urgency in bolstering HBCUs' endowment capital and philanthropic revenue, the workshop delved into innovative investment strategies tailored to address pressing challenges faced by institutions like Tennessee State University. From exploring the nuances of philanthropic engagement to emphasizing the importance of investor education in aligning endowment strategies with institutional missions, the discussions were rich with collaborative energy and strategic foresight.

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building's report, "Investing for Change," underpinned these conversations by painting a stark reality of the disparities in endowment sizes and management capacities between HBCUs and other higher education institutions. This has various impacts, such as limited capacity to fully support students and university programs.

  • The report also found that the average HBCU endowment is $73.2 million compared to the average non-HBCU endowment of $476.4 million. Despite these financial barriers and the fact that HBCUs only represent 3% of higher education institutes in the U.S., HBCUs produce outstanding impact—enrolling 10% of Black students, delivering 15% of bachelor’s degrees, and 19% of STEM degrees.

Despite these financial hurdles, HBCUs remain steadfast in making significant impacts on community advancement, student empowerment, and excellence in education.



Key Takeaways

Over the three engaging hours, the discussion also touched upon how IEN can assist in these efforts. Key themes emerged, underlining the imperative for:

  • Educating university investment teams on mission-aligned endowment strategies to enhance returns, philanthropic giving, and consensus-building
  • Promoting diversity within fund management teams that manage endowments to drive outperformance in the investment portfolios.
  • Fostering collaboration between the investment community and higher educationdecision-makers to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion while championing local community impact.

These concerted efforts were underscored by the event's esteemed speakers, including: 

  • Ed Smith-Lewis - Vice President Strategic Partnerships & Institutional Programs
  • Obie McKenzie - Fmr. Trustee, Tennessee State University
  • Randall Strickland - Director, Client Portfolio Manager, Westfuller Advisors
  • Angela Outlaw-Matheny - Director of Diverse Manager Equity, Crewcial Partners
  • Enyi Kanu - Founder & CEO, Endowment Enhancement Program | kANU Asset Management
  • Darren Sugiyama - CEO of Lionsmark Capital & Co-Founder of the Endowment Enhancement Program
  • Himalaya Rao-Potlapally - Managing Director, The BFM Fund

The workshop culminated in a resounding call for continued collaboration and support to stregthten HBCUs through expertise mobilization, fostering mutual understanding, and nurturing partnerships built on trust

Following the endowment growth event, workshop participants joined in community with members from Second Nature’s Intersectional Climate Action Leaders Working Group members for a post-workshop lunch. One notable outcome is the unveiling of the HBCU Climate Action Blueprint at the Summit, thoughtfully presented by UNCF President & CEO, Dr. Michael Lomax. Dr. Lomax's insights have greatly enriched the dialogue, fostering a more ignited momentum toward mission-aligned investing, climate sustainability, and environmental justice for all. See more about the Summit here.



Looking Ahead

As the echoes of the workshop linger and the momentum for change continues to build, IEN remains dedicated to the impact of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) through critical conversations and collaborative initiatives. 

The resounding calls for collaboration and support resonate through the contributions of esteemed speakers, partners, and sponsors including UNCF, the Ford Foundation, the Endowment Enhancement Program, Crewcial Partners, and Prime Buchholz, among others.

The spotlight shines brightly on upcoming events that promise to deepen engagement and foster meaningful impact in sustainable investing and climate justice. For further inquiries or engagement with IEN's JEDI Initiative, reach out to Paris Prince, IEN’s Senior Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at [email protected]


Institutions represented at the workshop include: Waverley St Foundation; Commonfund Institute, Crewcial Partners, Second Nature, Dillard University, Lionsmark Capital, Reparations Finance Lab, Endowment Enhancement Program, HBCU Green Fund, Commonfund Institute, Talladega College,  Lincoln University, North Carolina A&T State University, Black Founders Matter Fund, Diverse Investing Collective, UNCF Institute for Capacity Building, Virginia Union University, MacArthur Foundation, National Association of Investment Companies, Tennessee State, Global Children's Financial Literacy Foundation, Westfuller, Green Power Ventures, Bivium Capital,  Trustee for Freedmen Green Bank and Trust, Florida A&M University, Intentional Endowments Network 

Get up to date IEN News

Sign up for our Newsletters