HBCU Advocacy And Relevance Remains The Priority In Washington

by LP Green, II

Last week the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) helped to launch the new Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus, chaired by Representatives Alma S. Adams (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL), said TMCF President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. The Caucus was officially approved by the Committee on House Administration in the 114th Congress.

After months of planning, the Caucus was created to highlight the unique challenges faced today by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Currently there are 45 bipartisan Members of Congress who have joined the Caucus to create a national dialogue that will address these challenges, while ensuring the needs of HBCUs are echoed and recognized on Capitol Hill.

“The importance of advocating for HBCUs became clear in the fall of 2012, when the U.S. Department of Education tightened the underwriting standards for its Parent PLUS Loan (PPL) program,” said Taylor. “HBCUs have been instrumental in building the nation’s diverse workforce and advancing its economy. Thus, it is vital that we work together to address their needs while protecting the college students matriculating on their campuses. ”

For 28 years, TMCF has been at the forefront working with HBCUs to build their capacity to remain relevant and compete globally in today’s higher education landscape. The HBCU Caucus will ensure that the HBCU community can continue to do its part to guarantee that there are diverse, talented and globally-competitive college graduates in the workforce pipeline, ready to lead in careers such as education, medical, technology innovation and cyber security or become a future entrepreneur.

“As a former professor and alumnus of an HBCU, I am proud to co-chair the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus,” said Congresswoman Adams. “I am grateful for the support of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The launch event highlighted the need for all of us to come together to solve the issues impacting our HBCUs. Together, with all key stakeholders, we will create a collective impact that will bring the needs of our HBCUs to the forefront.”

There are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States that enroll nearly 400,000 students per year. HBCUs represent 3 percent of colleges and universities, yet graduate 20 percent of African Americans with undergraduate degrees – and 25 percent of African Americans with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

“HBCUs are important to America – not just African Americans,” Taylor said. “The new HBCU Caucus, which is comprised of Republicans and Democrats, blacks and whites, men and women, reflects the diversity of America and is critical as an advocacy body for the HBCU community.”

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