The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has awarded more than $1 million in grants for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that were targeted and disrupted by racist bomb threats last year. The grants were awarded as part of DOE’s Project SERV (Project School Emergency Response to Violence) initiative that works to help institutions of higher learning affected by violent threats.
Four HBCUs, in particular, were on the receiving end of the grants: Claflin University ($440,000); Delaware State University ($217,000); Howard University ($203,000); and Texas Southern University ($191,962).
“The bomb threats last year that targeted several Historically Black Colleges and Universities traumatized their campus communities, disrupted learning, and drained resources by prompting costly campus lockdowns, class cancellations, and law enforcement activities,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release emailed to NewsOne. “The Biden-Harris administration will always stand by HBCUs and unequivocally condemn racist efforts to terrorize Black students and educators and deprive them of their right to safe, welcoming, and nurturing environments for teaching and learning. The Project SERV grants announced today will help four HBCUs directly impacted by these bomb threats to better serve students, faculty, and staff by increasing access to mental health and wellness services and improving other vital supports.”
As defined on DOE’s website, “Project SERV funds short-term education-related services for local educational agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted.”
Nearly five dozen HBCUs were targeted by bomb threats in 2022. They began in January of last year and continued for months. None of the threats ever turned out to be true, but classes were disrupted and canceled as buildings and campuses were evacuated amid heightened security presences on the campuses.
In November 2022, the FBI identified a minor as the person who allegedly made the racist bomb threats. They were being investigated by the FBI as a federal hate crime. But because the suspect is a minor, they were not charged federally because of limitations for juveniles.
Cardona told NewsOne in September in an exclusive interview that the DOE had been in communication with the FBI and with HBCU presidents and chancellors to provide updates on the ongoing investigation. Cardona also pointed to federal funding as one of the solutions for HBCUs to help improve their security measures.
In addition to using the grants for security, the four HBCUs awarded the Project SERV grants all said they intend to use the funds to bolster wellness and mental health services.
The federal grants come after President Joe Biden’s Administration made a $2.7 billion investment in HBCUs across the country from the American Rescue Plan.
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