When Eddie C. Brown (BSEE ’61) came to Howard, his entire college career was made possible by an anonymous donor. He never forgot her generosity.
Sixty years later, he and his wife, C. Sylvia Brown (BS ’62), gave a $5 million gift to Howard, “giving forward” to help students like himself pursue their college education without worrying about how to pay for it. This gift marks the largest alumni gift to Howard University in the school’s history. “I was blessed to receive my college education debt free, and I think it’s important to offer those less fortunate the opportunity to do so as well,” said Eddie.
Though the Browns had contributed to Howard in the past, this particular gift supports the Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Grant for students facing financial barriers. Eddie Brown is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Brown Capital Management, a Baltimore-based asset management firm that is the second oldest African American-owned investment management firm in the world.
“The GRACE Grant has helped to eliminate financial barriers to education for Howard students, and I am thrilled that the Browns were inspired to commit such a generous gift to this important fund,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick.
The Browns met on Howard University’s campus in 1957. Eddie came to Howard from Allentown, Pennsylvania as a student in the College of Engineering, and Sylvia came to Howard from King William, Virginia as a student in what was then the College of Liberal Arts.
This story and their mutual love for Howard is what inspired the couple to contribute the historic gift in support of the GRACE Grant. This gift represents what Eddie says is not giving back, but “giving forward.”
“We were very fortunate to be able to go to Howard,” Sylvia said. “I had student loans, and I know how hard that is. Being from a family of four, my parents did the best they could, but that was never enough to pay for all the fees. And that’s been our mantra, to give to others and help them at least be able to get an undergraduate degree so they have a good foundation.”
The GRACE Grant was established by President Frederick to help remove any financial barriers for students and encourage on-time graduation for students who successfully completed their freshman year. This need-based program, created in 2014, provides a 100 percent match for students who receive the maximum Federal Pell Grant and provides additional funding for those with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0.
The impact of the GRACE Grant is clear. Since its inception, GRACE recipients saw an average 17 percent increase in retention and an average four-year graduation rate of 78 percent, a 32 percent increase compared to students in the same financial category who did not receive GRACE funds.
“Our only hope is that students who benefit from our contribution do their best,” said Sylvia.
- Eddie Lam (MD ’90) → $1 million to create the Dr. Eddie Lam Campus Enhancement Current-Use Fund
- Christopher Cross (PhD ’19) → $4,000 for the Lavender Fund
- Kenneth Chenault → $2 million to support the Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Esq., Endowed Chair
- TIAA-CREF → $1 million to create the Roger W. Ferguson-TIAA GRACE Scholar Program Fund
- MNTN Digital, Inc. → $500,000 in support of the HU Golf Team Endowed Fund
- Lauryn Morris (BS ’20) → First alumni donor born in the millennium