ASU Selected for Inaugural Multi-Million HBCU Transformation Project

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By Lois G. Russell

Alabama State University is one of only 20 HBCUs selected for the first cohort of participants in a capacity-building initiative formed through the collaboration of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Partnership for Education Advancement.

According to the news release dated March 16, 2022, the Transformation Project will “drive tangible, long-term progress across Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and impact the Black economy.”

The HBCU Transformation Project is a historic collaboration between TMCF, UNCF and the Partnership for Education Advancement.

“This first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to increase HBCU health and sustainability, improve student outcomes in retention and graduation rates, expand enrollment, and increase capacity building with faculty and staff.”

ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., said the Transformation Project represents a tremendous opportunity for Alabama State University and its sister institutions.

“We are proud to be selected to be part of this first cohort of HBCUs to benefit from this landmark initiative,” said Ross. “Alabama State University is blessed to be a part of this mutually beneficial partnership that will allow ASU and the other members of the inaugural cohort to advance in areas that are crucial to the survival of any university. We are excited about the opportunities that it has and will continue to afford us to intentionally impact student success. We are grateful to TMCF and UNCF for their historic support of the vision and mission of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We also are thankful for the new alliance with the Partnership for Educational Advancement and Blue Meridian Partners.”

$60 Million Investment

According to the news release, the Transformation Project already has an initial commitment of $60 million from Blue Meridian Partners, “a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to problems that limit economic and social mobility for America’s young people and families in poverty.”

More from the Transformation Project News Release

Although they represent just three percent of all Higher Education institutions, HBCUs produce nearly 20 percent of all African-American college graduates. HBCUs have produced more than 1 million associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degrees combined since 1984.

HBCUs produce 40 percent of all Black engineers, 40 percent of Black Congress members, 50 percent of all Black lawyers, 50 percent of all Black doctors, and 80 percent  of Black judges. These professions are critical for closing the wealth gap between black and white workers.

While HBCUs overproduce relative to their better-resourced counterparts, they have remained underfunded. Historical underfunding has led to a myriad of financial issues for HBCUs, particularly much smaller endowments relative to their peers.

“Our country has under-invested in HBCUs which have a proven track record for unlocking student potential, driving socioeconomic mobility, and serving as significant community assets,” said James Runcie, President, Partnership for Education Advancement.

Recent data from McKinsey & Company show that investing in HBCUs would profoundly affect the US economy and help fill the social and economic gaps black Americans experience. HBCUs are uniquely positioned to foster such advancement given their assets, experience, and cultural and historical significance.

“This collaboration offers a powerful opportunity to drive positive socioeconomic impact,” said Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams. “We are proud to partner on this unique, capacity-focused strategy that brings together HBCU institutional relationships and the capacity building experience of TMCF, UNCF, and the Partnership for Education Advancement.”

“UNCF and Thurgood Marshall College Fund have worked together for many years, and this collaboration is a continuation of our efforts to amplify support for the needs of HBCUs and the students they serve,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “Blue Meridian Partners support is very important and will significantly enhance the HBCU innovation and transformation work that UNCF’s Institute Capacity Building team has been pioneering for nearly two decades. This high-profile campaign will make the case to donors and to the government to elevate the profile of HBCUs and raise the support they deserve.”

“HBCUs have long overperformed as engines of opportunity,” said Jim Shelton, Blue Meridian Partners chief investment and innovation officer. “With this investment, we aim to significantly strengthen these institutions and student success at scale, contribute to closing racial gaps in access to opportunity, and boost economic mobility and wealth-building among black people and communities now and for generations to come.”

The initiative will be executed using a cohort model of select institutions. The inaugural participating HBCUs are listed below.

Cohort/Participating HBCUs
Alabama State University
Benedict College
Claflin University
Clark Atlanta University
Delaware State University
Dillard University
Florida A&M University
Hampton University
Huston-Tillotson University
Johnson C. Smith University
Morehouse College
Norfolk State University
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
South Carolina State University
Spelman College
Talladega College
Tuskegee University
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Wiley College
Winston-Salem State University

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund
Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80 percent of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit:

About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African-American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

About the Partnership for Education Advancement
The Partnership for Education Advancement (Ed Advancement) is a 501(c)(3) committed to working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to advance their institutional capability and performance. Ed Advancement develops sustainable solutions to improve enrollment, student retention, graduation rates, career outcomes and institutional health in close collaboration with HBCU partners.

By developing deep partnerships with institutions and encouraging collaboration on shared services, Ed Advancement spurs individual and collective success across HBCUs. Founded in 2018 by Tony James, Chairman of Jefferson River Capital, former Executive Vice Chairman of Blackstone Group, and Jim Runcie, former Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), Ed Advancement is currently partnering with 17 institutions that serve more than 90,000 HBCU students, with a commitment to serve the entire HBCU community.

About Blue Meridian Partners
Blue Meridian Partners is a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to problems that limit economic and social mobility for America’s young people and families in poverty. To meet the scale of the problem, we provide transformative capital paired with capacity-building support and strategic guidance, empowering visionary leaders to dream bigger and vastly expand their impact, influence, and reach. With an investor mindset, we support strategies that address challenges from cradle to career, working both nationwide and within specific communities. We recognize that economic mobility is inextricably tied to racial equity. Therefore, we make investments that tackle systemic inequities that both hinder opportunity for black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and other communities of color and limit the flow of capital to social sector leaders of color. Ultimately, Blue Meridian’s goal is to transform the philanthropic marketplace in order to improve the life trajectories of millions of young people and families across America.

To date, Blue Meridian Partners has raised more than $3 billion across its partnership group, which includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, The Ballmer Group, and several others.


Contact Kenneth Mullinax at 334-229-4104, or