Howard University Receives Highest Donation from Alumni Couple Amid Protests from Students Over Campus Living Conditions: ‘There Are Still Students Who Are Homeless’

Eddie C. Brown and his wife C. Sylvia Brown, class of ‘61 and ‘62, respectively, recently made an historic donation to Howard University. The couple made a hefty relief of $5 million to the school’s Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence Grant.

GRACE, the need-to-base program created in 2014, promises on-time graduation for students who have successfully completed their freshman year, the Philanthropy News Digest reported.

With their pillows and blankets, some Howard University students leave the administration building where they spent the night while continuing to occupy the building on campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., March 31, 2018, to protest the university’s policies, tuition hikes and neglect of student affairs. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In addition, the “program provides a 100 percent match for students who receive the maximum Federal Pell Grant and additional funding for those with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0.”

Eddie Brown, the founder, chair, and CEO of Brown Capital Management, a Baltimore-based asset management firm that is the second oldest African American-owned investment management firm in the world, felt compelled to make the donation after remembering a speech once given by one of his church figures.

“I remember a minister of ours said something that we never forgot,” he said. “Those who are blessed should be a blessing to someone, especially those less fortunate. We always remember that. I was blessed to receive my college education debt free, and I think it’s important to offer those less fortunate the opportunity to do so as well.”

The Brown’s donation is the highest ever given by an alumni. Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick showed gratitude for the endowment. “The GRACE Grant has helped to eliminate financial barriers to education for Howard students, and I am thrilled that the Browns were inspired to commit such a generous gift to this important fund,” he said in a statement. 

“My hope is that students will be inspired by their story and generosity and that others in our alumni community will consider the many ways they, too, can impact current and future generations of Howard students,” he added.  

Sylvia Brown calls it “paying it forward.” I had student loans, and I know how hard that is. Our mantra [is] to give to others and help them at least be able to get an undergraduate degree so they have a good foundation,” she added. 

However, the generous offer comes during a time of turmoil on campus as students hold protests, citing “unlivable” conditions. Allegations include claims of mold infestations, as well as rats and insects, the Daily Beast reported. 

A meeting was scheduled for earlier this month between students and administration. However, staff members were absent from the Tuesday, Oct. 5 conference at the Blackburn student center on campus. Demonstrators ultimately coordinated a sit-in that was still in effect as of the Friday, Oct. 15, publishing of the DB article.

“We have mold. People are getting sick, people are getting hospitalized, and there are still students who are homeless. Homeless, as in on the streets. And they’re not being helped,” a junior at the university, who wished to remain anonymous, told the outlet. 

Students presented a list of demands that included an in-person town hall with the university’s president and administration before the end of October. In addition, they also want all affiliate trustee positions to be reinstated to the board of trustees with voting power ensuring students contribute to major decisions regarding the school. 

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