Warnock, Tim Scott lead push for more federal funding for Black colleges

Graduates react after receiving their diploma during the 137th commencement that celebrates the classes of 2020 and 2021 on the Century Campus at Morehouse College on Sunday, May 16, 2021. (Photo: Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Graduates react after receiving their diploma during the 137th commencement that celebrates the classes of 2020 and 2021 on the Century Campus at Morehouse College on Sunday, May 16, 2021. (Photo: Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Georgia’s two U.S. senators are involved in a push to get Congress to support and provide more federal funding for the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities.

Twenty-two senators signed a letter sent Monday to leaders of a Senate subcommittee to ensure funding in four areas they say are critical to the success of HBCUs. One area, which is supposed to provide matching grants to HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions, hasn’t been funded since fiscal year 1995, the letter says. There are nine accredited HBCUs in Georgia and approximately 100 nationwide.

“Increased federal aid will only add to the job creating capacity of these institutions, and will support more students who will be able to reap the benefits of having a degree from an HBCU,” one passage of the four-page letter said.

The letter was shared with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the office of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

Warnock and the Senate’s lone Black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina, are leading the charge, Warnock’s office said. Another Republican, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, also signed the letter.

ExploreMay 17, 2021 letter to U.S. senators Patty Murray and Roy Blunt

Top Georgia elected officials from both major political parties have been vocal in recent years about the need to support HBCUs because the schools have historically received less money in gifts from donors and enroll more lower-income students than predominantly white institutions. The lawmakers and HBCU advocates say the funding gap makes it tougher for the schools to maintain campus facilities and offer some academic programs.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who also signed the letter, noted the challenges in a visit earlier this month to Clark Atlanta University, where he and other Georgia lawmakers celebrated more than $30 million from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March that will go to three of Atlanta’s HBCUs: Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman colleges.

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