Biden's Build Back Better Plan Prioritizes $3B In Funding For HBCU STEM Programs
How will President Biden's new agenda affect HBCUs?
November 18, 2021 at 12:54 am
HBCUs are awaiting a possible new bill proposed by President Joe Biden.
“It would be tremendous in terms of what we would be able to do with our research in terms of agriculture, in terms of engineering, and science and technology,” North Carolina A&T spokesperson Oliver Thomas said."It [the bill] would enhance our ability to be competitive."
MIT, North Carolina A&T and John Hopkins are just a few of the institutions that would benefit from the $3 billion social safety net package for their science, technology, engineering, mathematics and STEM programs.
North Carolina A&T has one of the top engineering programs in the country. The school is currently facing a $100 million maintenance backlog, but passing Biden's package would provide the financial foundation needed to increase and improve job prospects for students.
"The significance here is that there's an opportunity for an HBCU to move into the top echelon," Harry Williams, the head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said. "And it requires this type of federal investment for that to happen."
Currently, there's not one HBCU that has achieved the status of first-tier institution. Williams believes Biden's newest bill would be a "game-changer" for any HBCU wanting to expand their STEM programs.
HBCUs classified as second-tier research schools do not have access to doctoral programs that attract federal and private grants.
"We want to build on this to continue to demonstrate clearly this type of investment is only going to yield a positive outcome for the African American community," Williams stated.
Google announced a $50 million commitment to invest in tech programs at HBCUs and create an employment pipeline to Silicon Valley to raise the number of Black college graduates in the tech industry.
Earlier in the year, Apple also awarded $5 million "Innovation Grants" to four HBCUs, Alabama A&M University, Howard University, Morgan State University and Prairie View A&M University, as part of the iPhone maker's New Silicon Initiative. The commitments aim to help prepare students for careers in hardware technology and silicon chip design.
The importance of research, STEM programs, and funding at Black colleges has been the target focus recently. Companies are just beginning to realize the importance of having Black scientists and engineers in the field.