POLICY PAPER: HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) provide opportunities for educational growth and workforce development for students. According to research conducted by UNCF, collectively there are 101 HBCUs in the US which enrolls approximately 240,000 Black undergraduates with 70% coming from low socioeconomic statuses.  Retention rates are higher at HBCUs for students who are considered academically underprepared and come from lower income backgrounds. As a byproduct, the presence of HBCUs  boosts the local economy by annually producing $14.8 billion. Despite the positive impact of HBCUs, they are historically underfunded  by state governments. With the necessary funding, HBCUs can increase enrollment and acquire necessary resources to support students.

History of Litigation & Policy Context

2021 – Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

This legislation settled a long-standing lawsuit over inequitable funding for Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities and provides $577 million to HBCUs from 2023 through 2032. It was introduced by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore) and Senator Charles Sydnor, III (D-Baltimore & Baltimore City).

In 2006, The Coalition of Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education filed a lawsuit citing discrimination through insufficient funding from the state and permitting other predominantly white state schools to duplicate programs similar to ones offered at HBCUs has further exacerbated inequities. In September 2019, Governor Hogan offered $200 million as a settlement, which was rejected. Attorney Michael Jones, a representative of The Coalition for Equity and Excellence stated in a letter to legislators in the  Black Caucus that The Coalition would settle for $577 million over 10 years to Morgan State, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Coppin State, and Bowie State. In February 2020, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones presented bill (HB 1260) that followed the conditions proposed by The Coalition. The Maryland General Assembly unanimously approved. Hogan responded with a veto. The veto was overridden in the 2021 legislative session.

  • Lawsuits against states for discrimination compensation have not been limited to Maryland. In 2001, a 25 year lawsuit was finally settled when Mississippi paid $516.98 million to 3 HBCUs campuses in Mississippi after the US Department of Justice intervened.

Social Mobility through Maryland HBCUs:

  • HBCUs grant more bachelor’s degrees to Black students than any university in Maryland
    • Awarding 32% of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Black undergrads
    • Black students are underrepresented in STEM fields, however Morgan  (p.22) alone accounts for 58% of electrical engineering, 83% of civil engineering, 31% of chemistry degrees given to Black students in Maryland
  • Nationally, on average HBCUs account for 30% of bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students

Economic Development through Maryland HBCUs:

According to a study commissioned by UNCF in 2017, Maryland HBCUs have had a total economic impact of $1 billion. HBCUs and graduates will also generate economic growth; for every dollar spent by an HBCU, students will generate an additional $1.52 cents for their local economies.  In addition, Maryland HBCU graduates can earn $900k due to their college credentials.

Leveraged HBCUs

  • Paul Quinn College  has a curriculum that requires each student to take a course on the social implications tied to their major each semester (ie.: studying air quality to show how effects of pollution disproportionately affects Black community, which led to a movement to stop landfills from expanding in South Dallas)
  • Hechinger Report proposed in this article that supports a new economic development model in which startups and tech companies should be located in cities with HBCUs due to the economic benefits that HBCUs generate
  • Winston-Salem State University has developed an Enterprise Center and Simone’s Green Acre Community Garden which serves to transform the community and foster economic hubs for small business opportunities. The center has won the Economic Development Administration Award from the the US Dept. of Commerce. The community garden was created to provide fresh produce and improve the health of community residents
  • Morgan Community Mile is a partnership where Baltimoreans partner with Morgan faculty and students to improve the standard of living in Baltimore through research, community engagement, economic development, and develop initiatives to reduce crime.
  • Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) has created the Honore Program with the goal to increase retention and Black male educators. The program recruits Black male seniors from NOLA area high schools to complete their education at SUNO and commit 2 years to teaching in a classroom after graduation. If the candidate commits, he will receive a stipend, housing, textbooks, mentoring  and meal plan. After two years of teaching is complete, all loans from SUNO are forgiven.
  • North Carolina A&T has partnered with BranchED Alliance which is a non-profit organization working with several HBCUs and other minority serving institutions to increase the teacher workforce and prepare teachers to be culturally and linguistically responsive.
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