Spelman sets sights on innovation, endowments in ‘Ascends’ campaign

Spelman College said Saturday it is hoping to raise millions for a new technology and innovations building, renovations for its arts facilities and to enhance scholarships and bring in top faculty.

In an hourlong event streamed on YouTube and Facebook, the Atlanta institution launched the public phase of its “Spelman Ascends” funding campaign. The goal: to raise $250 million to boost the school’s educational offerings and turn out the Black women leaders of tomorrow.

The good news: The school has already reached 96% of its goal with three years to go before the overall campaign ends.

“This campaign is driven by the pursuit of integrating and globalizing learning, teaching creatively and with rigor,” said Rosalind G. Brewer, the chairwoman of the school’s Board of Trustees. “These ambitious goals build on our accomplishments as the premier historically black college for women.”

The school said it has raised $240 million in private funds over the past three years from donors such as the Coca-Cola Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has helped it to grow its academic programs and graduate Black women. Applications for enrollment have grown from 5,000 five years ago to almost 11,000 for this academic year, the school said.

Among its fundraising priorities, Spelman wants to bring in an additional $70 million to enhance scholarships, to launch a summer bridge program that will begin with a partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, renovate its Rockefeller Fine Arts Building and create an endowment for a planned innovation and arts center.

“Your faith in us inspires us to ascend even higher,” Mary Schmidt Campbell, the school’s president, said after announcing the success so far in the “outrageously ambitious” funding campaign.

Gina Hudgins Ashe, a 1983 graduate of Spelman, said the fundraising is key to ensuring that Black women continue to have a place at the helm of world change.

“I am passionate about Spelman College because of the impact it has had on shaping the lives of women of African descent and for ensuring our rightful place in society for more than 100 years,” said Ashe, who also is a trustee. “And the work of our beloved institution in that regard is never done.”