News Release

Southern Education Foundation Secures $1 Million Dollar Grant for Five HBCUs to Advance Liberal Arts Education

Media Contact: Mitch Leff, 404-861-4769, & Kim Speece, 404-849-6579,


ATLANTA, July 28, 2022 – The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) has successfully secured a $1 million dollar grant to support five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to strengthen and advance liberal arts education. The funding was provided by the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities to revitalize the role of the humanities in general education — resulting in more than $1 million in grants to the HBCUs. The purpose of the grant is to strengthen liberal arts education with a specific focus on the use of transformative texts.

The Teagle Foundation approached SEF in 2019 to manage the process and provide the technical assistance to five HBCUs towards developing implementation plans to strengthen their liberal arts programming. The five HCBUs were selected by SEF and include:

  • Clark Atlanta University (Georgia)
  • Dillard University (Louisiana)
  • Norfolk State University (Virginia)
  • Tuskegee University (Alabama)
  • Virginia Union University (Virginia)

Each of the five institutions received $225,000 in grant funding to design curriculum aimed at strengthening student learning through the humanities and transformative texts, including works of literature that have transformed the world and continue to power discussion in college classrooms. The focus on liberal arts is designed to help students, especially those in STEM fields, prepare for leadership roles that require creative thinking and problem solving.

“These grants illustrate the need for all disciplines to experience the importance of the humanities to achieve a well-rounded education,” said Raymond C. Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. “Historical knowledge and collaborative learning allow for more critical thinkers and effective leaders.”

“The Teagle Foundation is delighted to collaborate with SEF and five distinguished institutions in fostering a humanistic education that will help prepare students for thoughtful leadership in the years to come,” says Andrew Delbanco, President, Teagle Foundation.

The cohort of five institutions will also work together in a unique partnership between HBCUs allowing collaboration across curriculums as well as an opportunity to share unique aspects of each school’s culture.

“The notion that five schools would collaborate and share ideas while in the process of applying for funding from the same source was revolutionary,” says Joyce King, PhD., SEF Distinguished Advisor and Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning, and Leadership at Georgia State University.

The Teagle Foundation believes that all students, regardless of major, should have an opportunity to experience the liberal arts believing the arts help foster humility, curiosity, empathy and a concern for others while strengthening an informed participation in the democratic process and effective citizenship.

Everette B. Ward, PhD, SEF Distinguished Advisor and Former President of Saint Augustine’s University references educator Marian Wright Edelman when she said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

The Southern Education Foundation believes this Teagle Foundation collaboration can do just that.

“Think about what this grant means geographically with regard to the intellectual capital of young people that will come from these five institutions and have careers and become leaders throughout the world,” says Dr. Ward. “I just think it is phenomenal.”


About the Southern Education Foundation

Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for students of color and students from low-income families and achieve educational equity in the southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at

About The Teagle Foundation

The Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life. Our aim is to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of teaching and learning in the arts and sciences while addressing issues of financial sustainability and accountability in higher education.