Jacksonville, FL – July 10, 2020 – Last month Reinvestment Fund and Edward Waters College (EWC) established a new financial partnership to significantly strengthen the College’s current financial standing and position it for increased long term financial stability. In particular, the financing deal led to EWC eliminating a longstanding operating budget deficit leading to its closing the most recent fiscal year (ending June 30, 2020) having achieved its first institutional operating net cash surplus in more than a decade. EWC is the State of Florida’s first independent institution of higher education and first Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
“This partnership is a truly transformational development for Edward Waters College” said EWC President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. “After many successive years of fiscal challenge the Reinvestment Fund’s investment in Edward Waters is a defining moment that we are confident will catalyze the realization of our achieving the promise of a limitless future for our academic community and we are sincerely grateful for Reinvestment Fund’s partnership and their tangible demonstration of confidence in the continuing upward moving trajectory of EWC,” President Faison said.
Like many of the nation’s HBCUs, Edward Waters College is a private, nonprofit, four-year baccalaureate degree granting institution of higher education which was founded in 1866 by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. The College has played an indispensable role in providing higher educational opportunities to thousands of students of color, many of them first-generation college students. Accordingly, more than 75% of students at HBCUs (90% at EWC) rely on Pell Grants to meet their college expenses and HBCU graduates account for nearly 40% of African-American engineers, 85% of African-American doctors, 75% of African-American PhD’s, 50% of African-American attorneys, and 46% of African-American business executives. Located immediately northwest of downtown Jacksonville, the campus is a historic anchor of the “New Town” neighborhood located in the heart of Jacksonville’s African-American community. With a rich history of high academic performance and strong graduate impacts, the College has had a tremendously positive historic and contemporaneous social and educational affect upon the city of Jacksonville and the State of Florida generating nearly $50 million in annual economic impact upon the local and state economy. In addition, for the last two consecutive years EWC has been named as one of the nation’s “Top Ten Smaller HBCUs On the Rise” by the HBCU Campaign Fund.
Unfortunately, historic disparities in investment due to educational policies and practices at varying levels as well as philanthropic underinvestment and discrimination in lending practices continue to profoundly impact HBCUs’ access to resources compared to non-HBCUs. As a result, institutional endowments at HBCUs which serve as vital reservoirs of financial support for operational and student support in higher education typically lag far behind those of non-HBCUs by at least 70% (e.g., Edward Waters College endowment sits at approximately $1.8 million). The largest portion of operating funds for HBCUs like Edward Waters come from federal and state resources, which declined significantly between 2003 and 2015. Even more, private HBCUs like EWC saw federal funding decline by 42% during that period. Accordingly, HBCUs face significant financial challenges when it comes to operations and capital infrastructure investment.
In response, Reinvestment Fund’s new financing partnership with Edward Waters College operates to significantly transform the College’s financial health and long-term prospects for continued growth and viability.
“This partnership with Edward Waters College marks an important step in our growing investments and data collaborations with HBCUs,” said Reinvestment Fund Southeast Managing Director, Christina Szczepanski. “We are thrilled to have been able to partner in what we truly believe will be a transformational investment for the College and this community.”
Using capital from the CDFI Fund Bond Guarantee Program (BGP), Reinvestment Fund’s investment gives Edward Waters long-term affordable financing, notably increasing the College’s cash liquidity, reducing the number of long-term liabilities, and positioning the College to embark on a larger capital improvement campaign to upgrade its campus learning and living facilities. Collectively, these steps are important to creating an environment of growth for the College and putting EWC on solid financial footing it needs to continue providing a thriving environment for its students and the historic community the College serves.
About Edward Waters College
Edward Waters College (EWC), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), is a private, historically black, urban college which offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on the Christian principles of high moral and spiritual values. EWC was established in 1866 and is an African Methodist Episcopal Church-related institution of learning. It is the first private institution of higher education in the State of Florida.