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From data scientists, educators and artists to CEOs, doctors, economists and ambassadors, Spelman College has unparalleled success at producing global change agents through providing an exceptional education to Black women. The New York Times notes that on average, a Spelman education leads to increased social mobility – moving up two or more income levels.

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Spelman College Announces $250M Comprehensive Campaign Supporting Scholarships, Endowed Professorships and Innovative Programs


Jazmyn Burton 
Spelman College

Spelman Ascends Campaign Announcement

(March 13, 2021) – Today, Spelman College announced the public phase of the largest comprehensive campaign in the history of the institution. With a goal of $250 million, Spelman Ascends is focused on the strategic initiatives of increasing financial aid, endowing faculty professorships, funding a technology infrastructure transformation and building a Center for Innovation & the Arts that houses programs in the arts, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In just over three and a half years, hundreds of generous donors have made gifts to Spelman, resulting in more than $240 million – 96% of the goal – that will support the College’s strategic priorities:

  • delivering on the promise of graduating with a competitive edge every student who enrolls at Spelman;
  • elevating the Spelman difference through support of the College’s extraordinary faculty;
  • enhancing the technology and operational infrastructure;
  • and promoting academic innovation by developing new programs and a new academic facility.

With the campaign not ending until 2024, Spelman is certain to exceed its goal, allowing the College to pioneer new academic programs and continue to graduate Black women who are global leaders. An increase in the number of applications from 5,000 five years ago to almost 11,000 for this academic year suggests that the momentum of the campaign is having a beneficial effect.

“The excellence of Spelman College has significant impact on our global community. The investment that our generous supporters continue to make to our beloved institution transforms lives and lifts communities,” said Rosalind G. Brewer, C’84, chair of the Spelman College Board of Trustees. “Their gifts enrich the experiences of our students, invest in exceptional faculty and support initiatives that address society’s most pressing challenges. We are grateful for their magnanimous contributions.” 

Generous Donors
The Atlanta-based liberal arts powerhouse dedicated to the education and empowerment of women of African descent has attracted seven and eight-figure gifts from Patty Quillin and Reed Hastings, MacKenzie Scott, Seth and Beth Klarman, Spelman trustee Ronda Stryker and William Johnston, Spelman trustee Ted and Barbara Aronson, Spelman trustee Susan and Tom Dunn, Jon Stryker, Spelman Board Chair Rosalind G. Brewer, C’84, and John Brewer, Leonard and Louise Riggio, Frank and Laura Day Baker, Jean G. Brophy and Martha Lee Kemper, Spelman trustee Mary R. and John F. Brock, the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation honoring Diana King, the estate of Joan B. Johnson, Erin Johnson Tolefree, C’2001, and Spelman trustee Cara Johnson Hughes, C’2003.

Many gifts from supporters like Bank of America, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, Morgan Stanley & Company, Ford Motor Company, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, the Coca-Cola Foundation, the WISH Foundation, the Ernst & Young Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation have led to partnerships and programs that help close the gap on inequities that exist in our society by connecting future leaders to the resources they need to succeed. 

Academic Excellence
New academic programs supported by the campaign include the Atlanta University Center for Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective; the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (in collaboration with Morehouse College and the Black Economic Alliance); the Institute for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; Spelman’s participation, in collaboration with Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse School of Medicine, in the AUC Data Science Initiative; as well as a new program to ensure employment and/or continued professional development for every Spelman graduate.

“We share great appreciation for the ongoing and generous support from those who love Spelman. Their contributions enable the College to continue its rich history of matriculating Black women leaders who go on to successful careers in fields such as science, politics, law, education, entrepreneurship and the arts,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “Our ability to surround our students with committed faculty, a challenging yet loving environment and a rigorous innovative academic experience is a direct result of our dedicated community of supporters.”

Cherished Community
A vital part of that community of supporters has been our Spelman alumnae. They have risen to the occasion, making nearly $17.5 million in commitments to the College, including via the 25@25 Technology Fund and the Spelman Strong Fund, a crucial bridge between tuition revenue and actual operation costs. In a show of true sisterhood, there is tremendous momentum and energy around the alumnae fundraising campaigns for scholarships that honor Spelman’s seventh and first Black woman president, Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D., and political pioneer Stacey Abrams, C’95.

Contributors to the campaign from Spelman’s board of trustees, alumnae, students, faculty, staff, volunteers and community shared their reasons for making gifts to the College during a virtual event announcing the public phase of its comprehensive campaign that was live streamed today at 2 p.m. EST on, Facebook and YouTube. The Spelman Ascends campaign launch remains available for viewing on the aforementioned platforms.

Spelman’s legacy has always been one of movement forward and upward from its start as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church to one of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions. Her daughters, Spelman alumnae, and the faculty that teach Spelmanites embrace the core value of aspiring to ascend as leaders in their communities, professions and across the globe.

This campaign will propel the College even further, setting up the next generation of students, scholars and administrators to carry-on the tradition of progressive and pioneering innovation and excellence. Spelman Ascends.

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 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. 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.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have 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, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit

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Keisha Leverette, C'2002
Campaign Director

Hazel D. Dean

Large Blue Quote LeftMy choice to change the world occurred at Spelman through hard work and perseverance. I realized very early in my college career that you are expected to excel and lead — a requirement of being a Spelman woman. Additionally, you are expected to be a change agent and be in service to others. Spelman provided my foundation for impactful leadership, and affirmed my life’s work of being a change agent in service for the public’s health. --- Hazel D. Dean, ScD, MPH, FAC, C'83, Deputy Director at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Spelman Alumna Mya Harvard

Large Blue Quote LeftAt Spelman, I was taught by distinguished professors who looked like me and genuinely cared about my success. I had sisters who constantly encouraged me and helped me build an unbreakable confidence. I also learned about my history and my community in refreshing and unique ways. Overall, my experience at Spelman was priceless and I will cherish it forever.” ---Mya Havard, Product Manager at Dropbox