The U.S. Senate, on Feb. 13, passed legislation announced by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, less than one week prior that will strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The legislation is likely to pass the House of Representatives and could become law within the coming weeks. The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students — HBCU PARTNERS — Act is also co-sponsored by Sens. Doug Jones, D-Alabama; David Perdue, R-Georgia; Kamala Harris, D-California; Roger Wicker, R-Massachusetts; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; and Mike Braun, R-Indiana. A companion bill is led in the House by Reps. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, and Alma Adams, D-North Carolina.
The act builds on the president’s 2017 executive order on HBCUs. It will require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to undertake annual planning and coordinate their efforts to support and expand HBCU participation those programs. The bill strengthens the rigor and transparency requirements of existing law by requiring that agencies track their progress toward past goals and share their plans with Congress. In addition, it codifies the president’s board of advisers on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for the institutions’ priorities and policy concerns to be raised.
“HBCUs today continue their tradition of opening higher education to new generations of students,” said Coons. “They educate 300,000 students across the country, 70 percent of whom receive Pell grants and charge almost 30 percent less tuition than their peer institutions. I’m proud to make sure that federal agencies actively work to support HBCUs’ critical missions.”