African American banker Frank Baker and his philanthropist wife Laura Day Baker have announced a gift of $1 million in scholarships for graduates of Spelman College, a historically Black college or university (HBCU). The first recipients of some of the funds are 50 graduates from the class of 2020, whose tuition balances were paid off, said the college in a statement.
According to Forbes, this year’s recipients are high achieving women graduates. And in the coming years, the scholarships will provide support to ensure that future high achieving graduating seniors have the financial resources to graduate.
“We are all aware of the headwinds that people of color – especially women – face in our country, the challenges of which are made even more apparent by the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Bakers, in the statement. “We believe it is critical that talented women finish college and confidently enter – free of undue financial stress – the initial stage of their professional careers.”
The Bakers’ gift comes almost exactly a year after billionaire Robert Smith announced he would pay off the student loan debt for the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College. Forbes said Frank Baker, a graduate of the University of Chicago, was inspired by Smith’s gift from last year.
Following the announcement of the Bakers’ gift, Smith lauded the decision.
“So proud of my brother Frank Baker and congratulations to the Spelman Class of 2020!” Smith tweeted, after the Bakers’ announcement.