PGIM, UNCF Study Finds Private HBCU Endowments Need Investment Support

Joint study identifies private HBCUs’ main constraints in growing their endowments and how asset managers can help optimize their investment returns for the long term.

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are a critical learning path for Black students seeking quality higher education in the United States. Yet, these institutions face systemic challenges in accumulating substantial endowments, a crucial factor for ensuring institutional stability and growth. A new study launched by UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and PGIM, the global asset management business of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), explores these challenges and how the asset management industry can work with HBCUs to achieve better outcomes.

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Investing in Change: A Call to Action for Strengthening Private HBCU Endowments,” details the perspectives of endowment professionals from nearly one-third of all private HBCUs gathered through a comprehensive online survey. Additionally, HBCU endowment professionals participated in a focus group, providing deeper insights into their experiences and the ways in which they use their resources to uplift students and their communities.

The study makes clear that private HBCUs have far fewer resources than non-HBCUs when it comes to overseeing their endowment portfolios — placing limitations on how they are able to use their endowment, manage risk and make asset allocation decisions.

“Our hope is that this research initiates critical conversations about how to level the playing field for HBCU endowments and how asset managers can engage with these vital institutions to help them meet their long-term goals,” said Sancia Dalley, managing director and head of PGIM’s DEI Portfolio and HBCU Investment Strategy. “PGIM’s work with HBCUs and UNCF is one way we can help fuel an ecosystem that is already producing a strong talent pool of future professionals for our industry.”

“HBCUs have, for centuries, pursued their missions without the endowment resources afforded to their counterparts. They have done tremendous work with a hand tied behind their back,” said Ed Smith-Lewis, vice president for strategic partnerships and institutional programs at UNCF. “Using this study as a foundation, UNCF is leading the charge to forge a new era in which HBCUs are able to cultivate the endowments required to accelerate their work and impact. We’re proud to partner with Prudential and its asset management business PGIM on this study and look forward to our continued strong partnership.”

Key Findings

The study indicates four main constraints for HBCU endowment professionals tied to lack of funding and the comparably small size of their endowments:

  • Smaller HBCU endowments limit infrastructure and capabilities. Eighty-six percent of the private HBCU institutions in the survey use their endowment predominantly to fund scholarships, with little budget left to support other essential needs.
  • HBCUs steward their endowment with significantly fewer investment management resources. Private HBCUs on average have only one internal investment management professional, often as part of a broader role, compared to an average of six internal investment staff at non-HBCUs.
  • HBCUs are substantially more risk-averse than non-HBCUs. Currently, a modest majority of HBCU respondents (63%) classify their risk tolerance as moderate, with the remainder preferring a more conservative approach. Only 13% of private HBCUs have specific resources allocated to risk management activities, significantly lower than the 54% of non-HBCUs that do.
  • HBCUs have smaller alternatives allocations than non-HBCUs. On average, private HBCUs are holding about 27% less of their portfolio in alternative asset classes compared to non-HBCUs (14% vs. 41%). These differences suggest HBCUs may benefit from more sophisticated liquidity management tools and processes, as well as a higher risk tolerance, to optimize their long-term returns.

Opportunities for engagement with HBCUs

The asset management industry is well-positioned to help HBCUs with these challenges:

  • Offering investor education and access to innovative investments and diversification solutions: Most private HBCU endowments point to both of these areas as avenues that could enhance their investment outcomes.
  • Sharing risk management expertise: There is a significant need for advanced risk management support among HBCUs, especially to navigate macroeconomic challenges, including interest rate and inflation risks.
  • Providing portfolio management oversight: Collaborating with experienced partners could guide HBCUs toward adopting moderately higher risk tolerances and increasing allocations to alternative asset classes.
  • Supporting endowment pooling initiatives: The smaller assets of HBCUs limit their access to investment opportunities available to well-capitalized institutions. Many private HBCUs (44%) are interested in pooling their endowments, which could provide shared resources and improved investment insights.

The PGIM and UNCF study is part of Prudential’s broader HBCU strategy to support HBCU leadership, faculty and students, aimed at increasing access and exposure to the financial services and investment management industries. Since 1978, Prudential has provided more than $1.4 billion to help eliminate barriers to financial and social mobility for underserved and underrepresented populations.

“Brilliance exists in every area of our society, but access to the tools and resources needed to thrive is often a barrier,” said Kathy Sayko, PGIM’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “This study and PGIM’s ongoing partnership with the HBCU community are an extension of our responsibility to support the next generation of investment leaders, so they can be competitive and thrive in our industry.”

For the full study findings, read Investing in Change: A Call to Action for Strengthening Private HBCU Endowments at


UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees, and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 50,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Learn more at or, for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.


PGIM, the global asset management business of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), is a global investment manager with more than $1.2 trillion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2023. With offices in 18 countries, PGIM’s businesses offer a range of investment solutions for retail and institutional investors around the world across a broad range of asset classes, including public fixed income, private fixed income, fundamental equity, quantitative equity, real estate and alternatives. For more information about PGIM, visit

Prudential Financial, Inc. (PFI) of the United States is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential plc, incorporated in the United Kingdom, or with Prudential Assurance Company, a subsidiary of M&G plc, incorporated in the United Kingdom. For more information please visit



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