Black Leaders Urge Congress To Pass ‘FUTURE Act’ To Create More Opportunities In STEM For Black Students

<<enter caption here>> at Spelman College on November 17, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Black Leaders Urge Congress To Pass ‘FUTURE Act’ To Create More Opportunities In STEM For Black Students

“Passing the FUTURE Act is the number-one priority for HBCUs right now.”

Published September 16, 2019

Written by Zayda Rivera

Black leaders from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) are standing together to urge Congress to pass the “Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education” (FUTURE) Act, H.R. 2486, sponsored by Rep. Alma Adams. 

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Tuesday on the bill aimed at facilitating continued diversification of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, ensuring the preservation of our nation’s security and economic growth, NBC reports

If passed, HBCUs and MSIs (Minority-Serving Institutions) stand to gain $255 million annually in reauthorized mandatory funds to strengthen their outcomes in STEM majors, among other disciplines. 

Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs), Hispanic-Servicing Institutions (HSIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are also included under the FUTURE Act.  

“In an era where state support of higher education has been in a rapid decline in many parts of our country, our nation’s publicly-supported HBCUs and PBIs can ill afford to lose the federal funding that is the lifeblood of some of the most impactful programming on our campuses,” Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF president and CEO, who represents publicly supported HBCUs, said in a statement, NBC reports. 

On behalf of private HBCUs, UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax said in a statement on Friday (September 13), “Passing the FUTURE Act is the number-one priority for HBCUs right now, and it is UNCF's top initiative.”

In fact, UNCF started the #ProtectingOurFUTURE campaign aimed at influencing Capitol Hill to renew the impactful mandatory funds.

“This effort has resulted in about 20,000 letters and phone calls being sent or made to Congress this month alone so far,” Dr. Lomax said. “We want to make sure that the gains HBCUs and MSIs have made in diversifying the STEM majors and professions are not dealt a deathblow.” 

Funding of this nature has proven to work. HBCUs account for 10% of all African-American college students across the nation but account for 21% of all African-American STEM graduates in the U.S. This can be directly attributed to the 12 years of mandatory funding from Title III of the Higher Education Act (HEA). 

“The Title III, Part F funding helps open the doors of opportunity, and positively impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of students each year,” Dr. Williams said in the statement. “Indeed, ultimately, this funding is helping our students - not merely our institutions - not only to survive, but thrive.”

However, that funding, which has been administered by the Department of Education since 2008, is set to expire on Sept. 30. So the need for Congress to pass the FUTURE Act is dire, and Dr. Lomax said UNCF intends to hold every vote accountable come Tuesday (September 17).

“HBCUs will watch and monitor Tuesday’s vote,” he said in the statement. “Every House member in the 20 states where there is an HBCU should know we are noting your votes and will let the administrators and students on your campuses know if you stood with our institutions …”  

Dr. Lomax added, “UNCF urges the House, and the Senate, to pass the FUTURE Act immediately.” 

Dr. Williams shared that sentiment and also said in the joint statement, “TMCF urges Congress to help sustain the future for our HBCUs and PBIs by acting in a bipartisan fashion to pass the FUTURE Act.”

(Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox)


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