Morris Brown College receives largest grant in 20 years

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Morris Brown College is getting nearly $3 million in federal funding for academic programs and the restoration of a historic building.

It’s the largest grant the Atlanta school has received in decades, said President Kevin E. James, after financial woes led to the loss of its accreditation in 2002 and enrollment dwindled down to just dozens of students.

“This is our first multimillion-dollar grant in 20 years,” said James, who was joined on Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., to announce the award. “These funds will absolutely help to catapult Morris Brown College into its glorious future.”

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Of the award to the school, $2.4 million is dedicated to supporting academic programs. James said the school will be creating a center for teaching and learning for current students to get academic help. The school also plans to continue investing in academic programs that will keep its students competitive on the job market, including e-sports, computer science and hospitality.

Another $500,000 is for the restoration of the historic Fountain Hall. The school previously received $1 million from the National Park Service Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant Program to repair the building’s windows, roof and iconic bell tower and clock face.

Credit: Photo by Stan Coleman

Credit: Photo by Stan Coleman

After the clock face was vandalized in September, James said its restoration is almost complete. But to restore the entire building is at least a $25 million project.

The new funding comes from congressionally directed spending requests, which let lawmakers earmark money for specific uses.

The private, historically Black college’s accreditation was revoked in 2002 over heavy debt and financial mismanagement. For 20 years, its students couldn’t apply for federal loans or Pell grants. Enrollment went from more than 2,500 students to fewer than 50, and the campus shrank to three buildings. But in April 2022, the school’s accreditation was restored.

More than 270 students are currently enrolled, James said Tuesday. By next year, he hopes enrollment will top 400 students.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

The funds will “help kickstart the renaissance that’s going on at this institution,” Ossoff said. In his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Ossoff pledged to support historically Black colleges and universities. He also credited U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., with helping to secure the funds for Morris Brown.

Morris Brown was founded by the Georgia Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1881. It’s the first historically Black college in the state to be founded by Black people.

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