Education continues to be the great equalizer in our society, and for almost 150 years, having an educated laity and clergy has been important and critical to the future of The United Methodist Church, and to the future of our world. The Black College Fund is an important tool in achieving that goal. One of the biggest challenges facing the 11 United Methodist-related historically Black colleges is funding — funding for faculty development, funding to maintain infrastructure, and funding for students who need financial support and scholarships.
To meet that challenge, United Methodists give to the Black College Fund apportionment. In recent years, the percent of support for the BCF has been between 87 percent and 89 percent, even during the economic downturn. To support this important ministry of education, leadership, and spiritual development, however, 100 percent support is critical!
Another challenge is the belief that Black colleges are no longer needed because students can go anywhere they choose to pursue a college degree. While that may be true of students from the best schools with the best scores and no financial constraints, the UM-related Black colleges and universities offer a chance to everyone with a dream and a commitment to excel – regardless of race, class, gender, or ethnic heritage.
The work these schools do is not just impressive; it is critical because many of these students would fall through the cracks and never earn a college degree though they have the intellectual capacity to do so. These schools are a good source of diverse leadership for the church’s agencies, boards, annual conferences, and higher education institutions. Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, president emeritus of Dillard University in New Orleans, writes, “Black colleges are also sources and catalysts of leadership for the church, culture, and the professions, as well as shining examples of cultural pluralism, educational diversity, integrity, justice, humanistic consciousness and ethical sensitivity, and the liberal arts tradition. They effectively and passionately bridge the communities of faith and learning.”