Syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner graduated from Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s in sociology and has given more than $65 million in tuition to students attending HBCUs. The many donations have been made possible through his Tom Joyner Foundation, established in 1998. More than 29,000 students have benefited from the gifts.
Terrence “J” Jenkins
Actor and TV host Terrence J is an alum of North Carolina A&T. Jenkins earned a bachelor of science degree in broadcast journalism and joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity during his time there. In 2015, he donated a $100,000 “endowment fund” benefiting the school’s journalism and communications department.
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby was an alum of Temple University in 1971 and later sat on the board of trustees before his recent sexual assault allegations forced him to step down. He has donated $20 million to Spelman and $1.3 million to Fisk University. By 1994, Cosby and his wife Camille had donated more than $70 million to various HBCUs.
Director and star of the upcoming film “The Birth of a Nation,” Nate Parker will launch a film school at Wiley College. Parker co-starred with Denzel Washington in “The Great Debaters,” set at Wiley. The first class of 30 students will participate in a nine-day summer institute for the school’s pilot program. “The hope is that we cover all aspects of filmmaking, from sound, lighting and cinematography, to just studying film specifically with the cultural component and the history of film,” Parker said.
Oprah was supposed to graduate from Tennessee State University in 1975, but she was one credit short and never earned her degree since she had already begun working in television. The media mogul and former talk-show host made a $1 million donation to Spelman University in 1995 and has given several times to Morehouse College, amounting to $12 million in funds.
Standup comedian and actor Kevin Hart teamed up with the United Negro College Fund along with stars like actor Anthony Anderson, singer Toni Braxton and NBA player Chris Paul to award a total of more than $500,000 in scholarships to 20 students attending HBCUs. In 2014, Hart offered $50,000 to Texas Southern University’s band so they could see Michael Strahan, a TSU alum, get inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.
Singer and host of the “Bobby Jones Gospel Hour” on BET, Dr. Bobby Jones graduated from Tennessee State University at 19 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He later earned a master’s degree. The 76-year-old donated $6 million to his alma mater in 2009 by granting exclusive rights to his performances and television shows plus 30 years of recordings.
When Denzel Washington starred in 2007’s “The Great Debaters,” he donated $1 million to Wiley College, the HBCU where the movie is set. Wiley hosted an elite debate team in the 1930s, and Washington played Melvin Tolson, an educator who led the group. The actor gifted the school with the funds to re-establish its debate club.
“Black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson attended Howard University on a partial scholarship through his junior year in 1991. He graduated with a degree in theater arts in 1993 and saw how helpful the grant was to him. Anderson and the UNCF gave $25,000 to four students and teamed up with Ronnie DeVoe to pay off a graduate’s $11,000 loan debt.
Sean “Diddy” Combs
Business mogul and soon-to-be retired rapper Sean Combs attended Howard University in 1988 before dropping out two years later. He donated $500,000 in 1999, and half was specifically allocated to Howard University’s School of Business. The former business major returned to the HBCU in 2014 to give a commencement speech. Diddy also received an honorary degree. On September 23rd, Diddy announced another $1M donation to Howard.