California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris knows that higher learning at the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities requires higher funding. Harris has been a longtime advocate for HBCUs, helping to push through a funding increase that would put millions into these schools.
A 14 percent increase in federal funding was included in the Senate’s omnibus spending bill, elevating the amount for HBCUs from $244.7 million in fiscal year 2017 to $279.6 million in fiscal year 2018, the LA Sentinel reported Wednesday.
“HBCUs are critical to the foundation of our higher education system, and provide opportunities for some of the nation’s most promising and deserving students”, Harris, an HBCU alumnus of Howard University, said. “I am pleased funds in this bipartisan budget agreement will be invested in the future of these young people. Ensuring HBCUs have the federal support and resources they need to thrive for generations to come is one of my top priorities as a proud HBCU graduate.”
As part of the Senate bill, historically Black graduate institutions will also receive a 14-percent funding increase, from $63.3 million to $72.3 million. Also, other majority-Black institutions will receive a raise from $9.9 million to $11.4 million. Bag secured!
Harris, along with Alabama Democratic Senator Doug Jones, requested the HBCU funding increase in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Twelve of their Senate colleagues supported their letter, according to the Sentinel.
HBCU presidents and other officials have been fighting for more funding to keep the doors open to their campuses. Several historically Black colleges and universities have had to operate under the threats of low funding, decrease enrollment, lacking academic programs and even closure. Therefore, the funding increase spurred by Harris and other senators is a great step forward for helping HBCUs.
These schools also contribute billions to states through their economic impact and by helping to generate jobs, two more reasons for the government to keep HBCUs strong.