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Obama Administration Investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities
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Obama Administration Investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. recently spoke at the 2016 National Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Week Conference, highlighting the value of HBCUs and the importance of advancing their legacy in student success. Over the course of 7 years, the Obama Administration has invested more than $4 billion in HBCUs, because these institutions are vital engines of economic growth and proven ladders of advancement for generations of African Americans.

Under the Obama Administration, 1 million more African-American and Latino students have enrolled in college. What’s more, black and Hispanic students earned more than 270,000 more undergraduate degrees in 2013-2014 than in 2008-2009. This Administration remains focused on continuing to increase the number of students who successfully complete college. To that end, the Department has worked to make new opportunities available to HBCUs.

Federal funding to HBCUs has grown each year since 2009. Through the Higher Education Act, HBCUs received a $17 million funding increase this year—the largest increase for the federal Strengthening HBCUs program in six years. And President Obama’s FY 2017 budget seeks to maintain and strengthen these opportunities for HBCUs to build their capacity. The FY 2017 budget proposes $85 million in mandatory funding to HBCUs, an increase of $5 million from FY 2016, plus an additional $244.7 million in discretionary funds for Title III.

The Administration has also fought for and won a historic commitment to fully fund Pell Grants and expand student aid for millions of low-income students. Pell Grant funding for HBCU students increased significantly between 2007 and 2014, growing from $523 million to $824 million. This year, President Obama announced a plan to make sure that Pell Grants are fully funded, including inflationary adjustments, and used strategically by students to reduce time and cost for receiving a terminal degree. The President’s 2017 budget also proposes a $30 million HBCU and Minority Serving Institution Innovation for Completion Fund, to help students from low-income backgrounds overcome challenges and persist through graduation day.

The White House Initiative on HBCUs has undertaken robust outreach efforts to increase HBCUs’ awareness of and participation in federal programs, best practices in student success and to highlight the talents of HBCU students. For example, during the Obama Administration, the Initiative launched the HBCU All-Stars program, recognizing HBCU undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement. Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars serve as ambassadors of the Initiative and advocates for the value of education and completion.

Today, the Obama Administration is announcing:

The United Negro College Fund and the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities will host the HBCU Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, Nov. 16-20.

The Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program has partnered with the HBCU Initiative to showcase the talented young men and women produced by our nation’s HBCUs with the launch of a new program, HBCUs in LA Internship.

From the earliest days at HBCUs, the institutions have evolved into complex modern campuses with interdisciplinary offerings, centers of innovation, federal partnerships and academic centers focused on student success. Students and families recognize the unique opportunities that HBCUs can offer to pursue educational excellence. At campuses across the country, HBCUs are seeing rising enrollment and interest in their programs – which represents an important opportunity to build on the rich history at those universities.

HBCUs are leading the way in college completion for Pell Grant recipients. Howard University and Spelman College were listed in the Department’s report Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Needamong institutions notable for enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients. Morehouse College and North Carolina A&T State also earned mentions for using innovative and research-based approaches to improve completion rates.

HBCUs are innovating to ensure that students complete college. In our recent competitive grant programs and experimental sites HBCUs have been selected. HBCU recipients of federal First in the World grants – Hampton University, Jackson State University, Delaware State University and Spelman College – have collectively received approximately $12 million to test strategies to increase college readiness, persistence, and success for high need students. In fiscal year 2015 alone, three of our 18 First in the World grants went to HBCUs.

HBCUs are providing Second Chances as part of the Department’s Second Chance Pell effort, a $30 million dollar pilot to support college access for incarcerated students. Thus far, Langston College, Wiley College, and Shorter College have been selected to participate and are working to expand educational opportunities for men and women seeking to turn their lives around and earn a degree.
HBCUs are providing high school students the opportunity to access federal Pell Grants to take dual enrollment courses provided by colleges and high schools through the Department’s Dual Enrollment Experiment. Benedict College and Jackson State University were selected to participate in this experiment, which is a promising approach to improve academic outcomes for students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds.

The Obama Administration is tremendously proud of our work to support HBCUs and their students and recognize that there is work ahead to make sure all students have the opportunities they deserve. One effort integral to this work is President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal plan to provide two years of community college free for hard-working students. America’s College Promise also provides grants to four-year HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to provide more new or transfer low-income students with up to two years at a four-year college at zero or significantly reduced tuition.

And this year, the President proposed the creation of a $30 million dollar Innovation for Completion Fund for HBCUs and MSIs that would help students from low-income backgrounds overcome challenges and persist through graduation day. The fund would build on the work underway at Hampton University, Jackson State University, Delaware State University, and Spelman College to develop innovative programs and evidence-based practices that help students from all backgrounds achieve at a high level. Their projects—selected from hundreds of applications—were awarded more than $11 million in grants combined through the First in the World program to promote even more opportunities for students on campus.

The National HBCU Conference runs through Oct. 26 and provides campus leaders, students, business and foundation officials an opportunity to convene over two days to discuss the most pressing policy and educational issues and to dialogue about the future of HBCUs.