In an unprecedented act of generosity, billionaire couple Ronda Stryker and William Johnston have set an impressive $100 million donation pledged to Spelman College – making history and setting a precedent among donations made to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This landmark donation aims to significantly upgrade educational facilities at Spelman.

What Does This Historic Donation Entail?

Ronda Stryker, granddaughter of Stryker Corp’s founder, and her husband William Johnston have made an incredible donation of $100 Million to Spelman College – an esteemed HBCU. Of that donation, $75 Million has been dedicated for scholarships – providing financial relief to many students so they may pursue higher education without incurring debt burdens. Of the remaining $25 Million donation, it will go toward improving public policy and democracy academic programs as well as upgrading student housing facilities.

This gift embodies more than financial aid; it symbolizes donors’ faith in HBCUs as an investment for future leaders and an improvement to student housing that ensures an ideal living and learning environment.

How Does This Compare to Other HBCU Donations?

Stryker-Johnston’s gift is part of an emerging trend of significant philanthropic investments in historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). MacKenzie Scott donated over half a billion to various Black colleges, UNCF, Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as Netflix founder Reed Hastings and Patty Quillin who contributed an additional $120 million across UNCF, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges – further evidence of growing recognition of HBCUs’ value and impact in higher education. These gestures represent recognition of their value and impact among stakeholders across various fields in higher education.

Lilly Endowment Inc. recently made a $100 million gift to UNCF (which includes Spelman College), signaling a significant shift toward increasing long-term financial security of these institutions. This support is especially vital for historically underfunded HBCUs to attain parity in education resources and opportunities with their counterparts; their combined efforts are not just changing individual institutions but are altering the entire landscape of higher education for Black students in America.

The Impact of the Donation on Spelman College

Spelman College stands to benefit immensely from a significant donation. Boasting an endowment that ranks relatively well, Spelman can use this gift to further bolster academics and campus offerings, while making higher education more accessible and equitable.

Spelman College has long fostered civic engagement and leadership among its students through academic programs focused on public policy and democracy, so investment in such programs fits nicely into its tradition of encouraging civic participation and leadership among its graduates. Enhancing these programs ensures Spelman continues producing graduates who are not only academically adept but also socially aware and ready to make positive change happen in society. Furthermore, upgrades to student housing will directly enhance quality of student life ensuring Spelman scholars enjoy an environment conducive to thriving academically.


Ronda Stryker and William Johnston’s generous donation to Spelman College marks an unprecedented moment in HBCU history, providing powerful evidence of their significance. This act marks an impressive endorsement of HBCUs as central institutions within American higher education and society as a whole, setting a new standard in terms of philanthropy by setting an example that other donors recognize the indispensable contribution HBCUs make towards producing future leaders and supporting these vital institutions.