The AJC asks alumni at Clark Atlanta University's 2017 homecoming why they chose to attend an HBCU and why they would recommend the experience.

‘Black-ish’ creator to give ‘Million-ish’ to Clark Atlanta University in ‘Grown-ish’ gift

Kenya and Rainbow Barris’ $1 million gift will be largest alumni gift ever to the Atlanta HBCU

Clark Atlanta University laid the foundation for Kenya Barris to become one of the hottest producers and writers in television. 

The Atlanta-based HBCU set up Rainbow Barris to become a leading anesthesiologist in Los Angeles. 

Now, the 1996 graduates of CAU are returning the favors a million times over. 

The couple is expected to donate $1 million to the school for scholarships at a pre-commencement reception Sunday night.

Kenya and Rainbow Barris’ $1 million donation for CAU scholarships will be the biggest in school history from alumni.
Photo: Clark Atlanta University

»RELATED: Read the AJC’s full coverage of the health of HBCUs

Half of the Kenya and Rainbow Barris Annual Scholarship Award will go to support mass media arts majors. The other half will help students majoring in biology. 

Kenya Barris majored in mass media arts and is the creator of Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning television series, “Black-ish,” as well as the critically-acclaimed college spinoff, “Grown-ish.” 

Clark Atlanta University President Ronald A. Johnson (left) poses for a photo with Kenya Barris (center) and his sons. On the right: National Alumni President Marshall Taggert. Contributed by Clark Atlanta University
Photo: For the AJC

Rainbow Barris has a degree in biology from CAU and is a board-certified anesthesiologist in Los Angeles. 

Their gift  is the largest single gift from alumni since the consolidation of Clark Atlanta University in 1988 and school president Ronald A. Johnson, is also hoping that the gift sparks a trend. 

»RELATED: Kendall Youngblood finds a dream reborn by transferring to Clark Atlanta

Clark Atlanta University student Kendall Youngblood, 22, transferred from the University of Connecticut to CAU.The Milwaukee native attended boarding schools and was recruited by some of the nation's largest colleges to play field hockey. Here’s why she made the move to an HBCU. (Video by Ryon Horne, Eric Stirguss)

Earlier this week, the university announced the $2 million Charles S. Ackerman Memorial Scholarship, which includes a gift of more than 114 rare books valued at approximately $127,000. 

The Ackerman scholarship, named after a former member of the board of trustees, will cover tuition for full-time undergraduate students of CAU who are citizens or permanent U.S. residents, the university said in a news release. Ten sophomores will be selected into the Ackerman Scholarship Program each academic year, beginning this fall semester. 

The Charles S. Ackerman Memorial Scholarship, which includes a gift of more than 114 rare books,  will cover tuition for full-time undergraduate students of CAU who are citizens or permanent U.S. residents.
Photo: Clark Atlanta University

“Mr. Barris has lifted his powerful voice in the entertainment industry to explore issues of classism and racism in creative and humorous ways,” Johnson said. “In giving back to their alma mater, he has again used his powerful voice to articulate the importance of supporting this beloved institution that is giving our students the skills and confidence to find and lift their own voices in the field of their choice.” 

The Barris gift will be formally announced on Sunday at a reception on the eve of CAU’s Monday commencement, where Kenya Barris will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. 

It also kicks off the university’s 30th anniversary yearlong celebration, which officially starts on July 1.

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