A group of 65 HBCU presidents and chancellors has written to the leadership of the United States Senate, asking for support and passage of the Build Back Better bill which passed in the House last week.
The executives of public and private institutions throughout the country noted that the bill helps to reverse generations of underfunding for historically Black institutions, and is an overdue investment in building competitive balance within the schools.
The full text of the letter:
Dear Leaders Schumer and McConnell:
We, the undersigned Presidents and Chancellors of America’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), write to strongly encourage you 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.
For more than a century, America’s HBCUs have provided educational excellence and access for some of our most vulnerable populations. While constituting only 3% of all colleges and universities, we still graduate nearly 20% of all African American students and contribute nearly $16 billion to the GDP each year, yet we have traditionally received less than 1% of federal funding for higher education. Though we have all persevered and continue to provide high-quality, low-cost education for ALL, the trend of financial inequity is ultimately unsustainable for what we believe are some of the nation’s most important institutions of higher education.
Recently, there has been a consistent focus by the Administration and Congress on correcting the historic underfunding of these great institutions. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other pandemic relief programs have delivered $3.7 billion to HBCUs. Additionally, 45 HBCUs (13 public and 32 private institutions) have received approximately $1.6 billion in debt relief.
But it requires a sustained, intentional effort to correct nearly 200 years of inequity. Build Back Better invests $10 billion for HBCUs, HSIs, and MSIs to build greater institutional capacity.
This funding includes an unprecedented $6 billion increase in the mandatory programs at the Department of Education under Titles III and V – a five-fold increase from amounts that our institutions have received annually through these funding streams. Another $4 billion is provided for research and infrastructure development through competitive program grants – $3 billion from the Department of Education and $1 billion from the Department of Agriculture will become available for HBCUs to compete against like institutions.
It is a significant down payment on investment in an American future full of talented citizens who are not inhibited by where they come from or what they look like. You have the opportunity to help secure that future.
We encourage the Senate to enact swift passage of the Build Back Better plan. The time to act is now.
The proposal totals more than $2 trillion.
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