Renowned media mogul Oprah Winfrey has reaffirmed her belief in the transformative power of education by pledging a substantial $1.15 million donation to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). 

 This philanthropic gesture is aimed at alleviating the financial burdens faced by students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). 

The remarkable announcement unfolded during the 17th annual Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon; a prestigious event held in Charlotte. The luncheon, established in honor of the late poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, recognizes and celebrates women who are effecting positive change within their local communities. 

 The UNCF, an organization with a 75-year history dedicated to providing scholarships to Black students pursuing higher education, had initially set a goal of raising $500,000 during the event.  

To everyone’s astonishment, the organization managed to collect a staggering $1.15 million. In a show of solidarity, Oprah Winfrey declared that she would match this sum, thereby propelling the UNCF’s fundraising efforts to an impressive $2.3 million. 

Addressing an audience of nearly 1,200 attendees, Oprah emphasized her unwavering belief in the transformative potential of education, stating, “I believe in the power of education. There is nothing better than to open the door for someone.” She also used the occasion to share insights into leadership and the significance of building a lasting legacy. 

Contributions like Winfrey’s are crucial, particularly given the alarming student loan debt crisis disproportionately affecting HBCU students. According to the UNCF, these students often find themselves compelled to take out loans at higher rates due to limited financial resources, resulting in substantially greater debt burdens compared to their peers.  

Research conducted by the organization revealed that one in four HBCU students borrows at least $40,000 to finance their college education. 


Oprah Winfrey’s magnanimous act of philanthropy joins a growing chorus of support for HBCUs. Notably, last year, singer Beyoncé granted scholarships to eight HBCU students and launched a clothing collection whose proceeds benefited UNCF. 

 In another striking display of generosity, billionaire Robert F. Smith announced his intention to eliminate the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College, and he has recently extended this commitment to include the parents of those graduates.  

These philanthropic efforts collectively strive to reshape the educational landscape and alleviate the financial burdens faced by HBCU students, paving the way for a brighter future. 



IMAGE @ GettyImages

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