Study reports economic impact of HBCUs

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The United Negro College Fund released a study calculating to total economic impact of 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Of the three in the Piedmont Triad, Bennett College, Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T University total $757 million.

The report also calculated total employment impact and lifetime earning for graduates. For WSSU, jobs total 2,239 jobs and $4 billion for the lifetime income of graduates.

The data to support these numbers is from 2014 which is why WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson believes the impact is much greater today. Robinson emphasized there are several layers that relate to economic impact including visitor spending and the impact alumni have in their prospective community.

“About 60 percent of our students are Pell eligible, which means that their families make less than $50,000 and we when you can come to an institution and you can get a high-quality education and you can go out and you can get a job, you change the trajectory of your family and the community in general,” Robinson said.

Robinson was one of several HBCU leaders invited by lawmakers in a fly-in conference on behalf of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in February.

Robinson reiterated that it’s important for he and other HBCUs to share their stories and “share them loudly.”

“I would say that there's great movement in the political realm, the political structure at a national and a state level, where people are now beginning to say, 'Hey there's some great things coming out of these institutions,' and studies like this just serve to reinforce that,” Robinson said.

Economic Professor Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi at WSSU said that social mobility is a large society contribution that HBCUs offer.

“Well in this time of budget cuts and less money coming in from Washington, in fact I would argue that our relevance is more important today than ever it’s just it’s not only exclusively from African-Americans, it’s for our Hispanics, it’s for our white students,” Madjd-Sadjadi said. “Economic inequality has been exploding over the last few years. This institution in particular but also all of our HBCUs s are in fact the catalyst to help solve these problems.”

Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins sent this statement in regards to the report:

“Just as is the case with Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country, Bennett College generates a substantial amount of money in its local economy. In 2014, Bennett College generated $36 million in Greensboro. In fact, according to data from that year, every dollar spent by Bennett College and its students produces positive economic benefits, generating $1.42 in initial and subsequent spending in the local and regional economies.

“The economic impact and significance of HBCUs in their communities cannot be overstated. To that end, Bennett College applauds United Negro College Fund officials for their groundbreaking study about the economic impact of HBCUs, which was released yesterday. Further, I join UNCF officials and HBCU presidents and chancellors nationwide in saying I hope the study strengthens the case for federal agencies, philanthropic organizations, private businesses and other prospective partners to consider and execute new partnerships with our colleges and universities.”

North Carolina A&T State University was not available for comment. The study reports a total impact of $488 million.

The national economic impact for all 100 colleges and universities included in the study totals $14.8 billion.

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