Dozens of HBCU Leaders Urge Senate To Pass $2 Trillion Build Back Better Act

Biden’s plan would make ‘historic investments’ in HBCUs and other institutions serving students of color.

A financial lifeline worth billions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is at stake as the U.S. Senate considers President Biden’s proposed Build Back Better Act, a wide-ranging $2.2 trillion social spending package.

The measure passed the House on Nov. 19 along party lines, The New York Times reported. But it still faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Biden’s plan would “make historic investments” in HBCUs and other higher-learning institutions that serve students of color, according to a statement from the White House.

A total of 65 HBCU presidents and chancellors sent an open letter on Tuesday (Nov. 30) to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling on them to pass the legislation.

The HBCU leaders pointed out that their institutions are pivotal at educating Black students, but they have been underfunded for many decades.

“For more than a century, America’s HBCUs have provided educational excellence and access for some of our most vulnerable populations. While constituting only 3 percent of all colleges and universities, we still graduate nearly 20 percent of all African American students and contribute nearly $16 billion to the GDP each year, yet we have traditionally received less than 1 percent of federal funding for higher education.,” the letter stated.

RELATED: HBCU Funding Slashed From $45 Billion To Just $2 Billion In Latest Version Of Biden Spending Plan

For decades, the federal government denied funding to HBCUs that it provided to predominantly White schools for infrastructure development and research. State lawmakers have followed the same discriminatory pattern over the years.

According to the Associated Press, the cumulative endowment for all HBCUs was just over $3.9 billion in 2019. That is about the same amount as the University of Minnesota alone.

“Though we have all persevered and continue to provide high-quality, low-cost education for ALL, the trend of financial inequity is ultimately unsustainable for what we believe are some of the nation’s most important institutions of higher education,” the letter stated.

Biden’s investment in HBCUs included the American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief funds that provided nearly $3.7 billion in relief funding to HBCUs. That was in addition to approximately $1.6 billion in debt relief to 45 HBCUs (13 public institutions and 32 private institutions).

The HBCU leaders acknowledged that the administration and federal lawmakers have, of late, worked toward correcting the historic underfunding of their schools. “But it requires a sustained, intentional effort to correct nearly 200 years of inequity,” they underscored.

RELATED: Congressional Black Caucus Says Biden’s Build Back Better is Good for Black Americans

RELATED: Historically Black Meharry Medical College Gifts Students $10,000 Ahead Of Holidays

According to The Washington Post, colleges and universities that educate large populations of Black, Hispanic and other minority students will benefit from a $6 billion increase in mandatory appropriations.

The HBCU leaders said there would be an additional $4 billion for research and infrastructure development through competitive program grants.

“It is a significant down payment on investment in an American future full of talented citizens who are not inhibited by where they come from or what they look like. You have the opportunity to help secure that future,” they told the Senate leaders.

Below is a full list of the signees.

Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr.

President, Alabama A&M University

Dr. Quinton Ross

President, Alabama State University

Dr. Marion Ross Fedrick

President, Albany State University

Dr. Felecia M. Nave, PhD

Alcorn State University

Dr. Ernest C. McNealey

President, Allen University

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis

President, Benedict College

Dr. Suzanne Walsh

President, Bennett College

Dr. Aminta Breaux

President, Bowie State University

Dr. Jack Thomas

President, Central State University

Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack

President, Claflin University

Dr. Aaron Walton

President, Cheyney University

Dr. George T. French, Jr.

President, Clark Atlanta University

Dr. Lester A. McCorn

President, Clinton College

Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins

President, Coppin State University

Dr. Tony Allen

President, Delaware State University

Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough

President, Dillard University

Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr.

President, Edward Waters University

Dr. Darrell T. Allison

Chancellor, Fayetteville State University

Dr. Larry Robinson

President, Florida A&M University

Dr. Paul Jones

President, Fort Valley State University

Dr. Richard J. Gallot, Jr.

President, Grambling State University

Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith

President, Harris-Stowe State University

Dr. Wayne Frederick

President, Howard University

Reverend Matthew Wesley Williams

President, Interdenominational Theological Center

Dr. Thomas K. Hudson

President, Jackson State University

Dr. Lester C. Newman

President, Jarvis Christian College

Dr. Clarence D. Armbrister

President, Johnson C. Smith University

Dr. Clara Ross Stamps

President, Kentucky State University

Dr. Logan Hampton

President, Lane College

Dr. Kent Smith, Jr.

President, Langston University

Dr. John Moseley

President, Lincoln University of Missouri

Dr. Brenda Allen

President, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.

President, Livingstone College

Dr. David A. Thomas

President, Morehouse College

Dr. David Wilson

President, Morgan State University

Dr. Kevin James

President, Morris Brown College

Dr. Harold Martin

Chancellor, North Carolina A&T State University

Dr. Johnson Akinleye

Chancellor, North Carolina Central University

Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston

President, Norfolk State University

Dr. Roderick Smothers, Sr.

President, Philander Smith College

Dr. Ruth Simmons

President, Prairie View State University

Dr. Michael J. Sorrell

President, Paul Quinn College

Dr. Ivy Taylor

President, Rust College

Dr. Kimberly Ballard-Washington

President, Savannah State University

Dr. Paulette Dillard

President, Shaw University

Dr. Kevin W. Cosby

President, Simmons College of Kentucky

Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell

President, Spelman College

Colonel (Ret.) Alexander Conyers

President, South Carolina State University

Dr. Ray L. Belton

President-Chancellor, Southern University System

Dr. James H. Ammons Jr.

President, Southern University at New Orleans

Dr. Cynthia Warrick

President, Stillman College

Dr. Lisa Long

President, Talladega College

Dr. Glenda Glover

President, Tennessee State University

Dr. Dwight Fennell

President, Texas College

Dr. Carmen J. Walters

President, Tougaloo College

Dr. Charlotte P. Morris

President, Tuskegee University

Dr. Laurence B. Alexander

Chancellor, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Dr. Ronald Mason

President, University of the District of Columbia

Dr. Heidi Anderson

President, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Dr. David Hall

President, University of the Virgin Islands

Dr. Makola Abdullah

President, Virginia State University

Dr. Ericke Cage

President, West Virginia State University

Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard

President, Wilberforce University

Dr. Herman J. Felton

President, Wiley College

Dr. Elwood L. Robinson

Chancellor, Winston-Salem State University

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that the letter sent to Sen. Schumer went out on Nov. 29. In actuality it was sent Nov. 30. Also, the Build Back Better Act passed the House on Nov. 19, not Nov. 21. Finally, the story was updated to reflect that 65 HBCU leaders signed the letter.

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