HBCU Presidents Push Congress for Billions in Build Back Better Funding

By Say~It~Loud!

December 04, 2021

"Those of us in the HBCU community can no longer simply sit on the sideline," Morehouse College President Dr. David A. Thomas told theGrio

More than 60 HBCU presidents sent a joint letter to the U.S. Senate urging the “swift passage” of President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better Act — a bill that would provide billions of federal dollars to America’s historically Black institutions.

The letter, sent on Tuesday, is addressed to Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, urging the two Senate leaders to “join the House of Representatives in supporting the Build Back Better legislation, which will take a critically necessary step toward addressing the historic disparities in funding and support for HBCUs.”

 

 

The Collective of HBCU Presidents and Chancellors

The collective of HBCU presidents and chancellors champion the BBB bill, which would provide significant investments in research and infrastructure development, tuition assistance, scholarship vouchers, cyber security workforce development and increased funding through Titles III and V.

The letter highlighted the accomplishments of HBCUs through the decades, having graduated nearly 20% of all Black students and contributing “nearly $16 billion to the GDP each year,” despite HBCUs making up only 3% of all colleges and universities.

 

 

“I think presidents of historically Black colleges in the past [have] been pretty silent in these moments of debate about the direction of our country from a policy standpoint. And it’s time for a change.
Dr. David A. Thomas, President Morehouse College

Build Back Better, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 19 just before members went on Thanksgiving recess, is a $1.7 trillion social spending and climate bill that President Biden and Democrats have lauded as a framework to rebuild the middle class. In addition to investing $10 billion into HBCUs and other minority-serving higher education institutions, the BBB legislation provides sweeping investments in climate, health care, child care and more.

Dr. Tony Allen, President Biden’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Dr. Tony Allen, chair of President Biden’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, told theGrio that he sees the Build Back Better Act as “a significant down payment on what I think are historic inequities between HBCUs and our mainstream counterparts.”

Vice President Kamala Harris - The Power of an HBCU Education

Dr. Allen, who is the president of Delaware State University in Biden’s home state, said that most of the priorities he outlined in a dear colleague letter sent when he started his post on the Board of Advisors in September are in the Build Back Better plan. “One was about physical infrastructure and support as it relates to our mainstream counterparts,” said Dr. Allen, who added that improving the research status of HBCUs and providing more resources for “students from low resource communities” are all areas that will receive federal investments if the legislation is passed.

 

Speaking on the joint letter sent to Sens. Schumer and McConnell’s desks, Morehouse College President Dr. David A. Thomas said it was about time that HBCUs take a more non-passive role in their relationship with Washington. “Those of us in the HBCU community can no longer simply sit on the sidelines and see what comes in fear that if we voice support in the direction of one side of the political aisle or the other we will somehow lose the level of support that we already get.”

Dr. Thomas added, “I think presidents of historically Black colleges in the past [have] been pretty silent in these moments of debate about the direction of our country from a policy standpoint. And it’s time for a change.

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