Senator Stalemates as HBCU Supporters Clamor to Reinstate Resources for Schools that Expired on Sept. 30
On Thursday, October 24, the U.S. Senate took up a matter of extreme importance to 6 million students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) such as Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) and others: $250 million a year to increase minority graduates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field, including $85 million of direct support to HBCUs that expired on Sept. 30. For the third time, the Senate could not proceed because of an objection.
“For years, UNCF has worked with all of our partners to make HBCU issues mainstream and nonpartisan,” remarked Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “When I see our top priority, the FUTURE Act, within inches of the finish line—for the third time—it tells me we are too close to turn around. I commend Sen. Van Hollen, who today said on the Senate floor, that ‘The best judge of what HBCUs need are those institutions: HBCUs!’ I know others have proposals they deem as good for us, and they may be. However, nothing precludes the Senate from passing the FUTURE Act while working to enact longer-term solutions for America’s higher education landscape.”
UNCF Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs Lodriguez Murray added, “The FUTURE Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives by voice in September, showcasing the power of our bipartisan coalition. We expected that the bill would sail through the Senate. The expiration of this funding hurts HBCUs and that is the bottom line. The Department of Education has already notified the institutions that, without the FUTURE Act, HBCUs will lose the $85 million that they have received for the last 12 years. With that funding, HBCUs have significantly increased the number of STEM graduates from our institutions. Without it, HBCUs and others may have to lay off important personnel, namely, chemistry, math, biology, computer science and engineering professors. Renovations to facilities that house STEM disciplines cannot continue and long-term equipment purchases will be delayed. That is something we cannot allow. There is no reason the Senate cannot pass FUTURE while also working on proposals the Chairman of the Education Committee may want to consider.”
To support this effort, on September 1, 2019, UNCF began a digital campaign, Protecting Our FUTURE, which generated 63,500 letters and 2,700 phone calls to Congress asking for the passage of the FUTURE Act. Find this campaign at UNCF.org/ProtectingOurFuture to join the effort to restore $85 million for HBCU STEM students.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.