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Report: HBCUs Can Benefit U.S. Economy

August 2, 2021

A new report from McKinsey and Company, a global management and consulting firm, argues that increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities could help close the racial wealth gap, diversify the American workforce and benefit the national economy.

The report projects that that if HBCUs enrolled, retained and graduated more students, the institutions could yield a $10 billion-per-year increase in Black worker incomes on whole. The growth of HBCUs could also translate into $1.2 billion in incremental business profit, an additional $1 billion in consumer spending and a $300 million reduction in student loan debt, according to the report.

HBCUs disproportionately propel graduates into higher-earning careers, the report finds. The institutions make up 3 percent of American colleges and universities, and the average HBCU had an endowment value seven times less than the average non-HBCU between 2018 and 2019. Yet they graduate 50 percent of Black lawyers, 80 percent of Black judges, 40 percent of Black engineers and 40 percent of Black Congressmembers.

The data also suggests HBCU alumni are 51 percent more likely to move into a higher income quartile compared to students at other institutions. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of HBCUs are in counties with below-average median wages, 82 percent are in broadband deserts and 50 percent are in food deserts, making them uniquely situated to support high-need communities.

The report praises philanthropists and prominent companies for a recent increase in financial support for HBCUs after the killing of George Floyd last summer and a national reckoning with racism.

“If such attention and funding could be sustained -- and increased -- HBCUs could help to unlock not only more advancement for Black Americans but also strong economic performance for the United States,” the report states.

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Sara Weissman

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