“Charles Barkley’s $1 million gift to Spelman College comes at a significant time as we continue to close education and wealth inequality for Black families and maintain affordable education opportunities for women of African descent,” said Spelman’s new president, Helene Gayle. “As one of the country’s leading engines of social mobility and the nation’s leading HBCU, this generous gift will help build upon Spelman’s legacy of developing the next generation of leaders.”
Spelman, which has received an influx of high-profile, large donations in recent years, is widely considered the best Black college and one of the best women’s colleges in America.
In 2021, the school launched the public phase of its “Spelman Ascends” funding campaign to raise $250 million to boost the school’s educational offerings.
Barkley’s donation is timely in that it also marks one of the first major gifts under the leadership of Gayle, who officially took over as Spelman’s 11th president on July 1 after leadership stints at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CARE USA and the Chicago Community Trust.
Barkley, who has created a whole new generation of fans from his work as the affable host of “Inside the NBA,” has made a habit lately of supporting HBCUs.
The Spelman gift will be the sixth major donation that he has made to a Black college since 2016. A native of Alabama, Barkley donated $1 million each to Alabama A&M, Miles College and Tuskegee University.
In 2016, he pledged $1 million to Clark Atlanta University, followed by a 2017 pledge to Morehouse College for $1 million.
“People are aware of Charles from TNT and his NBA stardom, but I don’t think people are aware of how focused he is on philanthropy and entrepreneurism,” John Hudson told al.com. “He knows how committed Jordyn is to Spelman and has seen how it has transformed her worldview.”
According to al.com, last summer Barkley, a 1981 graduate of Leeds High School, gave every Leeds City Schools employee $1,000, while arranging for students to receive 200 computers and free internet service for a year.
“What can you say about someone who is so giving and charitable with their resources with all they’ve accomplished?” John Hudson said. “He has a special place in his heart for Black women; I’ve seen him invest in Black female-owned companies. This is just another indication of Charles investing in something that is close to his heart.”