Steinbridge Group Investing About $40 Million In Virginia Union University

February 3, 2024 Steinbridge

Steinbridge Group Investing About $40 Million In Virginia Union University

Pulse 2.0Virginia Union is the first recipient of a partnership between impact investment firm The Steinbridge Group, led by Tawan Davis, and the Student Freedom Initiative, a not-for-profit founded by Black billionaire Robert F. Smith.

Virginia Union University announced that impact investing firm Steinbridge Group will invest about $40 million to enable Virginia Union to unlock the value of its 100-acre real estate holdings in Richmond’s North Side. This investment will empower the University to develop underutilized parcels of land for commercial and residential uses.

The Virginia Union investment is the first iteration of Steinbridge Group’s $100 million commitment to HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). And in November 2023, the firm announced its first commitment of private capital to help transform underutilized assets owned by the nation’s HBCUs and MSIs. Steinbridge, in connection with the Student Freedom Initiative, has plans to continue expanding investments to develop impact-focused real estate around HBCUs and other MSIs. These investments will address the funding gap between HBCUs, MSIs, and other community-impacting organizations.

Steinbridge selected Virginia Union in collaboration with the Student Freedom Initiative (SFI), a not-for-profit founded by Robert F. Smith (Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners). SFI was founded to serve as a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending HBCUs and other MSIs by reducing students’ debt burdens and by using data to increase the competitiveness of HBCUs.

“The executive leadership at Virginia Union University demonstrated a strong capacity to take advantage of this program, and housing barriers in the surrounding community revealed a significant need for more affordable options. The population in Richmond, VA is 44% Black. As property values and tax assessments continue to increase, these community members face growing barriers and many have been forced to sell their homes in areas they have long lived and worked. As the city faces a 35,000-unit housing shortage, this partnership will help many in the community find stability and will help to grow economic potential for the entire region.”

– Dr. Mark Brown, President and CEO of the Student Freedom Initiative

SFI’s examination process considered Virginia Union’s land ownership, capacity to execute an expansive development project, and leadership positioned to galvanize the initiative. And Steinbridge and SFI will provide opportunities for other HBCUs and MSIs to learn more about qualifying for the investment soon.

Dr. Hakim Lucas (President and CEO of Virginia Union) emphasized that Steinbridge is making an investment, not a donation and he said Virginia Union would use the investment to generate value from its underutilized real estate, following a model that has enabled many large universities around the country to prosper.

“Virginia Union is going places we have never been before, statewide and nationally, because students and the community have high expectations of this institution. The Steinbridge investment will enable Virginia Union to create new sources of income, which will further strengthen our ability to create opportunities for students and the community. As the oldest African-American-owned, continuously run nonprofit, and as an anchor institution for Northside Richmond, we have a historic responsibility to drive the economic community development of this side of town.”

– Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President and CEO of Virginia Union

This announcement follows Virginia Union’s recent unveiling of its 10-year, $500 million master plan. And the plan is driven by rising interest in the University, which posted record enrollment in the Fall 2023 semester, pushing its number of students above 2,000 for the first time. Virginia Union University rose to the country’s 39th best HBCU (according to the most recent U.S. News rankings), entering the Top 40 just five years after not being ranked.

“Our commitment to Virginia Union is not merely financial, but it is a declaration of support for the institution and its vision. By partnering with Virginia Union, we are helping to ensure that HBCUs thrive as pillars of excellence and economic possibility today and for generations to come.”

– Tawan Davis, Founder and CEO of the Steinbridge Group


Read the full article at Pulse 2.0.