Dear Howard University Community,
When Howard alumni graduate from Alma Mater, their diplomas do not serve as a ticket to leave the Mecca behind. Rather, their diplomas are a symbol of their eternal connection to Howard University and the students on our campus. This connection affords our alumni the means and the opportunity to play a vital role in the lives of current and future Howard students.
Today, I am overjoyed to announce that Eddie C. Brown (B.S.E.E. ’61) and C. Sylvia Brown (B.S. ’62) have leveraged their everlasting connection to Alma Mater in order to reach back to the Mecca and pull forward students in need of support. The Browns have made a $5 million gift to support the Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Grant for students facing financial barriers. This donation is the largest alumni gift to Howard in the history of our University.
We are extremely grateful to the Browns for making this historic gift. 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. My hope is that students will be inspired by their story and generosity and that others in our alumni community will consider the many ways they too can impact current and future generations of Howard students.
The Browns met on Howard University’s campus in 1957. Eddie came to Howard from Allentown, Pennsylvania at just 16 years old 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. While equally committed to education, the couple recall two very different stories as it pertains to their opportunities to pursue a college education. Whereas Sylvia came from a family of educators and always knew she had the support to pursue a higher education, Eddie’s journey to Howard was made possible because of a caring teacher and anonymous “angel” donor.
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 Sylvia says is not giving back, but instead “paying it forward.” In 2014, Howard established the GRACE Grant to help remove any financial barriers for students and encourage on-time graduation for those who successfully completed their freshman year. This need-based program 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.
This is truly a gift to our entire University, not just to the students who will directly receive the financial support to continue their Howard educations. When we are able to remove barriers that prevent our students from pursuing their educations and reaching their highest potential, we all benefit.
On behalf of the entire Howard community, I would like to express my most heartfelt appreciation to the Browns for their generosity, their belief in the value of a Howard experience and their insistence that all people deserve a chance to pursue higher education.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery