Harvard University, the United States’ richest university, recently received the largest donation in its history: Gerald Chan is donating $350 million to the university’s School of Public Health. And by no means should Harvard look a gift horse in the mouth; especially a $350 million gift horse.
These large donations to universities that already have large endowments have been a growing trend over the past decade. A large part of this money is spent to hire the world’s top researchers, the best fundraisers, and to recruit highly qualified students who will also be able to make large donations to these universities’ endowments. That makes sense.
However, what these universities are not doing is using the donations to give a free college education to brilliant young students who cannot afford to attend a university such as Harvard, Cornell or Georgetown. Black people and households headed by single women with children have less than a 1 in 3 chance of escaping poverty. A bachelor’s degree increases a person’s chances of escaping poverty exponentially. The world’s top researchers don’t always get it right, but you can’t go wrong by investing in the higher education of a child who has lived their entire life in poverty.