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Tougaloo College Gets $10M Donation

Tougaloo College is receiving a $10 million donation, the largest it has ever received, from the CEO of Netflix.

Reed Hastings, who has been the CEO of Netflix since he helped to found it in 1997, and his wife, film producer Patricia Quillin, contacted Tougaloo College in Mississippi on Monday to discuss the donation. Not only is it the largest donation ever received by the small college, it is in fact equal to the school’s entire endowment.

Tougaloo College is a private, Christian historically Black college (HBCU) in Jackson, Mississippi. It was founded in 1869 by the American Missionary Association of New York specifically to educate freed slaves after the Civil War, focusing on teaching teachers. Since 1963, it has had a partnership with Ivy League school Brown University in Rhode Island, featuring student and faculty exchange programs between the two schools to improve educational standards for both. Today, it enrolls around 900 undergraduate students a year.

Half of the $10 million donation will endow need-based scholarships, and the rest will go into that partnerships, helping students access the greater resources of Brown University.

“The capital gap in our country is substantial at every level between household wealth and college endowments,” said Hastings, “This is the beginning of a great partnership with a great college a lot like the one I went to, except for the endowment.”

Hastings received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine, which while less than twice the size of Tougaloo, has an endowment over 270 times as large. $2.72 billion to Tougaloo’s $10 million. Historically, Bowdoin’s student body is primarily white, male, and upper class, while Tougaloo’s students are mostly black, female, and most students are the first in their family to go to college.

Hastings and his wife, who together have a net worth north of $4 billion, have been donating sums like this to other historically Black colleges for the past five years, and to other educational programs for years before that.

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