Administrators at historically Black colleges are eagerly awaiting passage of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, with hopes that the bill’s record funding for HBCUs could put the schools on a path to compete with top-tier research universities specializing in science and technology.
The massive social safety net package making its way through Congress would provide $3 billion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programs at minority-serving institutions. Advocates say that level of funding is crucial to helping Black colleges develop the kind of high-tech infrastructure commonly found at schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT.
Harry Williams, head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told NBC News that not one HBCU has attained the coveted status of a first-tier institution, schools that excel in research activity through doctoral programs that in turn attract federal and private grants.
But there are a dozen HBCUs classified as second-tier research schools, and Williams said the funding in Biden’s proposal would be a “game-changer” for them and other minority-serving universities looking to boost their STEM programs.
“The significance here is that there’s an opportunity for an HBCU to move into” the top echelon, he said. “And it requires this type of federal investment for that to happen.”
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SOURCE: NBC News, Dartunorro Clark