HBCUs are the gifts that keep on giving. But while they create unique opportunities for those within the Black community, the funding for these colleges and universities lag significantly behind predominantly white institutions. Presidential hopeful Cory Booker hopes to change that with a $100 billion plan that will invest in our Black institutions.
“HBCUs make our country stronger and more reflective of the diversity that makes us so great,” Booker said in a release shared with ESSENCE. “I am here today because of the power of these institutions to uplift and bring about opportunity to Black Americans. As president, I will redouble our efforts to support and invest in HBCUs across the country — my mother and father wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Booker’s parents both attended HBCUs and the New Jersey senator believes that he stands as a testament to the important role they play in our community’s upward mobility. But the Democratic candidate is not alone. Roughly 22 percent of Black Bachelors degree holders received their degree from an HBCU. These institutions also account for the majority of all Black teachers, doctors, judges, and engineers. As president, Booker’s $100 billion plan will ensure that they continue to be vital players in our nation’s educational system.
Sen. Booker promises to award grants that will expand upon STEM education, employing measures that will ensure more Black students study and find work within the field. They will do so on a college campus that offers a “world-class education” in “world-class facilities” according to the release. In part, this will be made possible by passing the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act which he co-sponsored along with his House counterpart, Rep. Alma Adams. The bill would allow institutions to receive more financing to upgrade campus infrastructure.
Also within Booker’s $100 billion plan is a proposal to create “Climate Moonshot Hubs” on HBCU campuses with the goal of putting our schools at the center of climate justice.
Beyond that, Booker wants to expand upon the collaborations that already exist between HBCUs and federal agencies. This includes passing a law proposed by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings that will establish small business development centers and offer an entrepreneurship curriculum.
The standout component of this $100 billion plan is Booker’s willingness to ensure that college is debt-free. Students who attend HBCUs would have all educational costs covered. Opportunities for an affordable education would also be passed down to Dreamers and incarcerated individuals, and retroactively to low-income students and those who enter public service careers like teachers, social workers, public defenders, and military personnel.
The Booker campaign is touting his plan as “the most comprehensive plan to support our HBCUs” and hopes that it will “reverse decades of exploitation and create economic opportunity in Black and Brown communities.”