Paul Quinn College grads receive $250K investment fund

Paul Quinn College’s newest graduates were surprised with a $250,000 investment fund at their commencement ceremony Saturday.

Michael Sorrell, president of the southeast Oak Cliff college, said the fund is a type of wealth-building tool not commonly available to first-generation graduates and Pell Grant recipients.

“The number one tool in the fight against poverty is access to capital,” Sorrell said in a written statement.

In 10 years, graduates can access the fund as a monetary gift. The college aims to secure additional contributions to increase the value of the fund, which will be managed by JPMorgan Chase.

The fund was seeded by a $250,000 gift from the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. It was announced by the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Howard-John Wesley, who was Paul Quinn’s commencement speaker Saturday.

“This graduating class has spent at least half of their college career in a global pandemic navigating an immense amount of stress and hardship,” Wesley said in a written statement. “We know the impact this has had on our mental and physical health and especially the impact it has had on the Black community.”

The historically Black college presented Wesley with an honorary doctorate degree to recognize his tremendous contributions to society, the school said.

“The vision needed to make this type of investment is as uncommon as it is generous,” Sorrell said. “We can never say thank you enough to Dr. Wesley and his extraordinary congregation.”

Paul Quinn’s 145th graduating class of 95 students is its largest since 2008, when there were 132. The school said class sizes have been on a “steep upward trajectory” in recent years.