Graphical promo about the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act. Photo courtesy: UNCF
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) along with supporters of the Institutional Grants for New Infrastructure, Technology and Education (IGNITE) for HBCU Excellence Act, are asking that you contact your local congressional representative and encourage them to support the act on infrastructure.
Funding HBCUs has been an issue for many years. According to a 2019 report, HBCU endowments were 70% smaller than the endowments at non-HBCUs. Though there have been strides to advancing Black education over time, smaller HBCUs, such as Morris Brown College and Bethune Cookman University, among many others, have had struggles with accreditations, funding and housing students.
Even higher-ranked HBCUs struggle with housing students and renovating residence halls. The displacement of a large fraction of Howard University students–many of whom have no option to be on campus after junior year and struggle to find affordable housing close to campus–could also be assisted by the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act. Emile Thompson, a Morehouse graduate and attorney in Washington, D.C., explained how he believes the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act would affect HBCUs if passed into law.
“The IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act is an amazing opportunity for reinvestment into the infrastructure of HBCUs,” Thompson said. “This Act, with monies focused on fixing and upgrading critical campus infrastructure, will help improve campuses and enable them to continue to do transformational work,” he continued.
Most HBCUs do not know that they could still be operating in a deficit, General Thompson stated, despite excess donations. The IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act could help offset those debts and increase the ownership and financial freedom of many of these HBCUs if passed.
Charles Collins II, a sophomore business marketing major at North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT), believes that HBCUs can finally receive their deserved recognition if given more resources by the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act.
Collins stated, “We, along with other HBCUs I know, all have outdated residential housing. It’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t do anything about it if they had the money to change it. I believe that updating facilities and hiring more renowned professors with money given by the act would be the most useful.”
HBCUs produce over 50% of this nation’s Black educators and are responsible for over 70% of Black dentists and physicians. HBCUs have simultaneously responded to adversity and scourged for ways to keep universities open while also generating over half of all black professionals.
The thought of the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act being passed has had alumni, including Howard Jackson Jr., a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University, consider how greatly he could have benefitted from its passing during his academic years.
“The IGNITE Act would have definitely made a difference in my experience during my matriculation at Clark. Having the extra funding and funding allocated in the right areas like housing, internship programs, and more is definitely needed within HBCUs,” Jackson said.
Further information about the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act and ways to support it can be found on UNCF’s website here.
Copy Edited by: Jasper Smith