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The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington, D.C. on February 1, 2022. | Source: MANDEL NGAN / Getty

Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. Department of Education are setting aside resources to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that have been impacted by the recent slew of bomb threats.

The Department of Education announced Wednesday that HBCUs that experienced bomb threats could apply for grant funds and other resources as a part of the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program.

This program will provide $50,000 to $150,000 per school along with access to a plethora of resources across the federal government. The goal of the program is to try to restore a safe environment and could be used to help increase mental health resources and enhance security on campus.

The announcement of the program comes after dozens of threats were made to some of the most prominent HBCUs in the nation during the first few months of the year.

“The bomb threats against HBCUs, particularly concentrated in Black History Month, constitute a uniquely traumatic event, given the history of bombings as a tactic to intimidate and provoke fear in Black Americans during the long struggle for civil rights in the 20th century,” Dietra Trent, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity through HBCUs, said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “In this context, even the threat of bombings at HBCUs can have a deep and unsettling impact on students, faculty, and staff that significantly disrupts the learning environment.”

Black students and especially students at HBCUs are keenly aware of the threat of hate crimes and violence against successful Black entities. History has proven that certain people are capable of violence against these historic institutions and the students that attend these schools.

“The recent bomb threats experienced by HBCUs have shaken students and fractured their sense of safety and belonging, which are critical to their academic success and wellbeing,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “We, at the Department of Education, recognize how these threats evoke a painful history of violence against Black Americans in this country that is especially traumatizing to HBCU students, faculty, and staff. Today’s announcement will improve access to Project SERV grants for HBCUs as these institutions work to address students’ mental health needs, shore up campus security, and restore learning environments so that they can get back to doing what they do best—educating the next generation of great leaders.”

These places of higher learning are integral to the fabric of this country and should be consistently supported and protected.

“Our HBCUs are pillars of strength and resiliency,” said Trent. “We will continue working to promote policies and practices that fortify that strength and advance educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity through these institutions.”


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