Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) could be underway through a new bill proposed by President Joe Biden.
NBC News reports that HBCUs are currently awaiting the final passing of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which includes record funding for HBCUs. The money could finally give the institutions the push that they need to compete against top-tier universities when it comes to the fields of science and technology.
“The significance here is that there’s an opportunity for an HBCU to move into the top echelon,” said Harry Williams, the head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in an interview with NBC News. “And it requires this type of federal investment for that to happen.”
With a safety net package that would provide $3 billion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for schools serving minorities, this level of funding will be a “game-changer.” Currently, about a dozen HBCUs are classified as second-tier research schools, without one ranking in as a first-tier institution. With a package like this, they can lead the charge amongst schools that excel in research activity thanks to doctoral programs. The move would in turn allow HBCUs to draw in both federal and private grants.
“We want to build on this to continue to demonstrate clearly this type of investment is only going to yield a positive outcome for the African American community,” Williams added.
For schools like North Carolina A&T — the largest HBCU in the nation that is home to more than 13,000 students and has been recognized as having one of the top engineering programs in the country — the Build Back Better bill will increase and improve job prospects for students.
“It would be tremendous in terms of what we would be able to do with our research in terms of agriculture, in terms of engineering, and science and technology,” shared university spokesperson, Oliver Thomas. “It would enhance our ability to be competitive.”
While the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill continues to move through Congress, it has yet to secure a floor vote in either chamber. Earlier this month, House lawmakers voted 221-213 to clear a procedural hurdle and set the stage for a possible vote regarding the legislation to come later this month and ultimately send the bill over to the Senate.