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JCSU to Receive $80 million from Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative

City-wide initiative will raise $250 million to address inequities and boost opportunities 

 Board of Trustees Chair Shirley J. Hughes and President Clarence D. Armbrister welcome the guests to campus.

CHARLOTTE, NC / November 1, 2021 - Civic, community and city leaders gathered in a packed Jane M. Smith Memorial Church on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University for the kick-off of a $250 million community-wide partnership to advance racial equity in CharlotteJohnson C. Smith University will receive $80 million from the initiative to help the University transform into a top-tier, career-focused HBCU.  
Board of Trustees Chair Shirley J. Hughes and President Clarence D. Armbrister welcomed the guests to campus and introduced the mayor for this major fundraising announcement.  
Hughes started the event pointing out the long history JCSU has had in the city and the Black leaders it has produced. She said the Queen City has seen a number of changes since the University was established but JCSU has remained true to its pursuit of academic excellence.  
“For more than 150 years, this institution has served our community, both near and far, producing some of the best and brightest minds in the country,” she said. “As Charlotte’s only HBCU, we have an even bigger part to play in Charlotte’s journey to equity for all.”  
Armbrister laid the groundwork for the announcements to come by pointing out the public-private partnership being unveiled has the potential to transform Charlotte into the standard bearer for cities looking to improve racial equity, social justice, economic opportunity and upward mobility.  
“Today is not only a hopeful day for this University and the community of West Charlotte where this campus calls home, but for our entire city, county and region. For too long we have approached equity from our various individual silos, chipping away with fits and starts,” he explained.  
Mayor Vi Lyles speaking at the event.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles then took the stage to talk about the quarter-of-a-billion dollars the initiative looks to raise, 84 percent in the form of philanthropic gifts and grants, as well as public dollars. 
“The issues we face as a community are bigger, broader and more deep-seated than any one organization can address alone,” said Lyles. “We need a significant commitment and investment from the private sector to complement and build upon the work being done by the public sector, the community and grassroots organizations. The vision for this effort is to establish a public-private partnership for achieving racial equity, social justice, economic opportunity and upward mobility.” 
From there corporate partners and philanthropists took the stage to make significant pledges to the program, including a $40 million pledge to JCSU from our longtime supporters The Duke Endowment.  
“When our founder established The Duke Endowment in 1924, he named Johnson C. Smith University as one of four schools in North Carolina and South Carolina that he wanted his philanthropy to support,” said Minor Shaw, chair of The Duke Endowment Board of Trustees. “Johnson C. Smith has experienced many exciting changes in the nearly 100 years since, and The Duke Endowment is honored to have been one of its partners along the way. Our partnership continues today as we proudly support these critical efforts to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion for all. We are grateful for the opportunity to join with business and community leaders in this significant work.” 
Minor Shaw, chair of The Duke Endowment Board of Trustees makes her announcement at the event.
In addition to The Duke Endowment’s $40 million gift, other private-sector contributions totaling $196 million announced Monday include: $25 million from Bank of America; $10 million from Lowe’s; $8 million from Truist; $6.1 million from Atrium Health; $5.7 million from Queens University of Charlotte; $5 million each from Ally Financial and Ric Elias; $3 million from Novant Health and Duke Energy; $1 million each from CLT2020 Host Committee, EY, the Michael Jordan Family/the Charlotte Hornets Foundation (a combined gift), National Gypsum/CD Spangler Foundation (a combined gift) and Trane Technologies; $500,000 from Mary and Mike Lamach; and $220,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies. 
From the public sector, the City of Charlotte committed $72 million and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library committed $8 million. 
The following funds were earmarked for the $80 million pledge to JCSU: 
  • The Duke Endowment - $40 million 
  • Bank of America - $10 million 
  • Ric Elias - $ 5 million  
  • Truist - $3 million 
  • Atrium Health - $3 million 
  • Ally - $1 million 
  • EY - $800,000 
  • Michael Jordan Family & Charlotte Hornets Foundation - $500,000 
  • Mary and Mike Lamach - $500,000 
The Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative looks to invest $250 million in total to address inequities and remove barriers to opportunity through four key workstreams: bridging the digital divide and establishing a Center for Digital Equity; investing in Charlotte’s six “Corridors of Opportunity” neighborhoods; transforming JCSU into a top-tier, career-focused HBCU; and ensuring organizations commit to racial equity through advancing more Black and Brown leaders within their individual corporations. 
Foundation For The Carolinas is leading fundraising efforts, and the money raised will be held in a fund at the Foundation. The work and the implementation of the workstream plans and on-going communication of the progress will be housed at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. In addition to the $196 million raised to date for the campaign, several million dollars more in commitments were announced for racial equity efforts outside the campaign.  
For more information on the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative go to
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