Senate Passes Bill from Sens. Scott, Coons to Strengthen Partnerships between HBCUs and Federal Agencies

The U.S. Senate passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) less than one week ago that will strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The legislation is likely to soon pass the House of Representatives and could become law within the coming weeks. The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (HBCU PARTNERS) Act is also co-sponsored by 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.

“Our HBCUs have provided amazing opportunities for generations of students, and I am excited that our bipartisan bill to help our HBCUs continue that tradition is on its way to becoming law. The HBCU PARTNERS Act is a great step forward for these schools and their students,” said Senator Scott.

“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.”

“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.”