Oprah Winfrey increased her endowment at Morehouse College on Monday by donating $13 million, making her contribution the largest endowment for a scholarship in the institution’s history. This donation comes in addition to the $12 million that Winfrey had pledged dating back to 1989. That year, she made a $1 million contribution during graduation exercises that established the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Prior to this $13 million gift, Winfrey’s previously pledged total stood at $12 million, which made her the College’s top individual donor. Winfrey visited the historically black college to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program. Around 600 students have already been provided an education through the program.
“Seeing you young Oprah Winfrey scholars here today has moved me deeply,” Winfrey told the students prior to making the donation announcement. “I was really surprised to learn that it’s been 30 years since I made that $12 million donation to Morehouse, so today I would like to add $13 million to that.”
Morehouse, a prestigious all-male HBCU based in Atlanta, has had a successful run recently in acquiring donations to further its students’ academic and professional futures. This past May, billionaire Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loan debt of all of the 2019 graduating students. Smith made this $34 million donation to see if removing student loan debt from college graduates helps propel their post-colligate careers and lifestyle.
In a statement, David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, said, “I’m grateful to Oprah Winfrey for her generosity. I am also feeling hopeful for Morehouse and what it has garnered in terms of philanthropic support with gifts like Oprah’s and Robert Smith’s. I am hopeful that this will also get others to step up with their support of Morehouse, but even more broadly, historically black colleges and universities.”
More than 500 people attended the announcement at Morehouse College. Nathan Rolle, who is a senior majoring in International Studies and a current Oprah Scholar said, “I’ve looked up to Ms. Winfrey my entire life. This day is the highlight of my Morehouse experience.”