The presidents and chancellors of most of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, including some from Atlanta, met late Monday with President Donald Trump and some of his top officials to urge them to offer financial support that will help their schools succeed and graduate more students.
The wish list included more money in Pell grants, which gives financial aid to low-income college students, greater federal investment in HBCU academic programs and more support that will help students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math. Many educators have complained about Pell grant cuts made during the Obama administration.
Spelman College president Mary Schmidt Campbell “spoke on the role of HBCUs in revitalizing local communities, from working with K-12 public education, to public safety,” in a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, according to a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) news release. The UNCF wrote a report in December that outlined 10 ways it believes Trump can help HBCUs, such as offering more tax credits to low-income families and including the schools in Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan.
There are about 20,000 students in the 10 HBCUs in Georgia.
Trump recently mentioned issuing an executive order regarding HBCUs. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who participated in the meetings, said in a statement the Trump administration will look for ways to help the schools.
“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish,” she said.
Trump, who had little support from black voters skeptical of him in November’s election, has been trying to improve his standing through praise of HBCUs along with meetings with some African-American entertainers and community activists.