Sens. Scott, Coons introduce legislation to strengthen partnerships between HBCUs and federal agencies

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced legislation to strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (HBCU PARTNERS) Act was introduced along with U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-AL), David Perdue (R-GA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). A companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Mark Walker (NC-06) and Alma Adams (NC-12). 

The HBCU PARTNERS Act builds on the President’s 2017 executive order on HBCUs. It will require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to undertake annual planning and coordinate their efforts to support and expand HBCU participation those programs. The bill strengthens the rigor and transparency requirements of existing law by requiring that agencies track their progress toward past goals and share their plans with Congress. In addition, it codifies the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for the institutions’ priorities and policy concerns to be raised.

“HBCUs today continue their tradition of opening higher education to new generations of students,” Senator Coons said. “They educate 300,000 students across the country, 70 percent of whom receive Pell grants, and charge almost 30 percent less tuition that their peer institutions. I’m proud to make sure that federal agencies actively work to support HBCUs’ critical missions.”

“Our HBCUs have provided amazing opportunities for generations of students, and I am excited to introduce this bipartisan bill with my friend Senator Coons to help our HBCUs continue that tradition. The HBCU PARTNERS Act is a great step forward for these schools and their students,” said Senator Scott.

“Today is a special day for bipartisanship and for HBCUs.  This morning we re-launched the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, which is now 80 strong with Members in both the House and the Senate.  Now, leaders of the Caucus mark our re-launch by introducing bipartisan legislation that codifies a comprehensive federal strategy for HBCUs – a major goal for our Caucus,” said Representative Adams.  “This bill will require every administration to strategically engage and invest in HBCUs.  These institutions provide over $15 billion annually to our economy and have provided pathways of opportunity for millions of Americans, particularly low-income and first generation college students.”

“As the husband of a proud Winston-Salem State University graduate and being privileged to represent North Carolina A&T State University, the largest public HBCU in the country, I know the value Congress can play in fostering partnerships to help these schools and their students succeed,” said Representative Walker. “By fostering bipartisan and multi-industry relationships, we can help HBCUs with a pipeline from potential-filled students to prosperous workers.”

“The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is proud to support the ‘HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students Act’ (HBCU PARTNERS Act),” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF president & CEO. “Having all federal agencies formally develop and submit annual plans for increasing HBCU capacity building for grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements, to Congress will ensure that the most important elements of President Trump’s HBCU Executive Order are not only developed, but acted upon.”