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Adams' Bill to Strengthen HBCU Partnerships Passes House

Dec 7, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – A bill introduced by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., (NC-12) to strengthen partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and federal agencies. The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (PARTNERS) Act passed the House today. The bill previously passed the Senate; should it pass the Senate as amended and be signed into law, this legislation will strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 HBCUs.

This is Adams' third stand-alone bill to pass the House this Congress.

“HBCUs are crucially important agents of access and equity in this country, said Congresswoman Adams. “The HBCU PARTNERS Act recognizes these contributions in the most important way possible: by affording these institutions the ongoing support and investment needed to deepen their transformational work. This legislation will require every administration and the federal agencies it manages to plan and coordinate their efforts to strategically engage with and invest in HBCUs. In addition, it codifies the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for HBCU priorities and policy concerns to be raised and addressed. Advancing the mission of HBCUs and the success of the communities they serve must be on the minds of our country’s leaders, and more importantly, it must be part of their agendas.”

“Thank you to my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus for their support, as well as all of the organizations that are tireless advocates for HBCUs, in getting this bill passed. I know the nearly 300,000 students that HBCUs serve will benefit from our efforts,” Adams concluded.

A video of Rep. Adams' remarks is available here.

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 in 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.

The bipartisan HBCU PARTNERS Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Adams and co-sponsored by Representatives Mark Walker (NC-06), French Hill (AR-02), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Al Lawson, Jr. (FL-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Anthony Brown (MD-04), and Barbara Lee (CA-13). The bill was sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and 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).

Congresswoman Alma Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District (Charlotte) and serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. Additionally, she serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Education & Labor Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the first bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus.

Rep. Adams' full remarks on today's bill as prepared for delivery are below:

Mr./Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.  I rise in strong support of S. 461, the HBCU PARTNERS Act, as amended.

Mr./Madam Speaker, today is a special day for bipartisanship and for equity, access, and inclusion. 

For centuries, this country has made promises to the African American community that have gone largely unmet – promises of freedom, promises of justice, and promises of equal opportunity. 

Today, we vote for a fighting chance to rectify this history and the impacts it has had on the Black community. Today, we vote to give HBCUs and the communities they serve a real, permanent seat at the table with the President of the United States and our nation’s federal agencies. 

You see, much like the people of color they serve, HBCUs are embedded in the fabric of this nation and play a vital role in its prosperity. 

And while countless other institutions have often fallen short, HBCUs have long been the means of delivering on our nation’s promise of freedom and opportunity for all, especially for communities of color. For generations, these schools have fought to deliver for African Americans what is owed to them: a first-class education and a fair shot at pursuing happiness. 

While only representing roughly 3 percent of all four-year colleges and universities, HBCUs produce upwards of 17 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans. 

HBCUs graduates account for 42 percent of all Black engineers and 47 percent of all Black female engineers. What’s more, these institutions produce 27 percent of all African-American STEM graduates, 50 percent of all African-American lawyers, 50 percent of all African-American public-school teachers, and 80 percent of all African-American judges.

Further, research has found that HBCUs are more successful at boosting students out of the lowest income distributions than other institutions of higher education. In fact, nearly 70 percent of students at HBCUs attain at least middle-class incomes after graduation – including nearly 70 percent of low-income students.

And on an annual basis, HBCUs contribute nearly $15 billion to the economy, produce 134,000 jobs, and create $46.8 billion in alumni career earnings that can be directly attributed to their degrees. 

HBCUs are clearly centers of advancement and excellence in this country. But it is important to note that this incredible success has been achieved despite over a century of systemic underfunding at both the state and federal levels.

That is why my bill, the HBCU PARTNERS Act, is so crucial. 

This legislation will require every administration and the federal agencies it manages to plan and coordinate, on an annual basis, their efforts to strategically engage and invest in HBCUs. 

This bill also strengthens the rigor and transparency requirements of existing law by requiring that agencies track their progress toward goals concerning HBCUs and share their plans to advance them with Congress.

In addition, it codifies the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for HBCU priorities and policy concerns to be raised and addressed.

In other words, this legislation provides us with an opportunity to commit to HBCUs in the same way they have committed to the wellbeing and prosperity of our country. And, in a very real way, it provides us with a chance to try and honor our nation’s promises.

Mr./Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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