Morgan Stanley announced a new program to provide full scholarships for 60 students at three historically Black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs — the latest move by a major bank to try to confront racial inequalities in the United States.
The scholarships are part of the bank’s HBCU Scholars program, which will provide four-year academic and needs-based scholarships to students at Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College. Morgan Stanley (MS) has committed up to $12 million to support the program over the next four years, and scholarships will be open to students across all disciplines and majors.
“To close the racial wealth gap, we know that Black academic and economic advancement is essential,” said Susan Reid, Morgan Stanley’s global head of diversity and inclusion, in a statement. “Racial inequity around access to and affordability of higher education can impact Black students’ ability to grow generational wealth.”
With less access to generational wealth, Black students are more likely to take on student loan debt to attend college. Black students also graduate with more debt than their White peers, with that debt tripling four years after graduation due to accrued interest and graduate school borrowing.
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to lead the way in leveling the playing field while creating an environment for students of color to thrive.” Reid said.
The program is set to begin in the fall of 2021. The first class of scholars will start with 15 students, with a new class added each year. Morgan Stanley will also provide students with career readiness support and training opportunities within the bank.
The announcement comes as much of the banking industry has made strides to help close the racial wealth gap. The bank joins Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) in making financial pledges to donate or commit funds to address racial inequality and bolster diversity and inclusion.
Corporate diversity efforts are coming from a host of industries beyond the financial sector. Last week, the Business Roundtable, a group of more than 200 of the nation’s largest employers and executives, released a report detailing a number of initiatives to tackle systemic racism in employment, finance, education, health, housing and the justice system. One of the commitments includes supporting additional funding for HBCUs.
This year has marked an unprecedented surge in financial contributions to HBCUs. Since the start of the pandemic, HBCUs have received more than $300 million, with large donations from philanthropists such as MacKenzie Scott, Michael Bloomberg and Reed Hastings.