U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, along with U.S. Representatives Hank Johnson and Nikema Williams announced Friday afternoon that the Atlanta University Center will receive a cumulative $32 million in direct federal funding as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, benefitting the HBCUs in Georgia.
Clark Atlanta University will receive approximately $16.4 million in federal funding as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Additionally, Morehouse College will receive $7.8 million in direct federal support, Spelman College will receive $7.4 million, and nearly $400,000 has been earmarked for the Morehouse School of Medicine in direct federal aid to help these Black colleges reinvest and recover during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are so grateful for the critical work done by Pres. Biden, Sen. Ossoff, Sen. Warnock and Georgia’s Congressional Representatives to help lift up HBCUs as we emerge from a once-in-a-lifetime health event,” said Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French. “These funds will go a long way toward elevating our university’s mission of preparing the next generation of future leaders.”
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law by Pres. Biden in March 2021 and included $3 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as institutions that serve minority populations. Universities can utilize the funds in a number of ways, including providing emergency financial aid and grants to students experiencing hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ossoff emphasized that the funding will be in the form of grants, not loans, which is a key for HBCUs as they have suffered directly from the wealth gap over centuries in the United States.
“The leadership of these institutions will have significant discretion and flexibility,” Ossoff said. “With respect to the investments that they want to make in facilities Operations, Maintenance and Technology, because the leaders of these institutions know best what they need. We did ensure in the American Rescue Plan act, however, that a full half of this federal support must go to direct assistance for students.”
“The racial wealth gap in Atlanta is the worst in the country,” said U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams. “And so the more that we invest in our HBCUs in institutions of higher learning, and make sure that our students are getting the foundations that they need, the better off we are.”
Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College, highlighted the funding they’ll get from the American Rescue Plan will be indeed be used to fortify infrastructure that will turn out graduates in data science, cybersecurity, and quantum computing, for example, that will make HBCUs and graduates extremely competitive.
“It’s going to be very important that parts of that infrastructure bill come to Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Schmidt Campbell. “I say that because according to the National Science Foundation, our colleges and universities collectively graduate more black students who go on to complete their PhDs in STEM fields than any other college or university in the country. So imagine what we could do for this country if we had the kind of investment in our infrastructure that we require.”
With respect to Morris Brown, the Georgia Democratic congressional delegation supports President Kevin James with his efforts to secure full accreditation, in a plan he calls, “The Hard Reset.”
“We just announced recently that we will be building a $30 million hotel at Morris Brown College in partnership with CGI merchant group and Hilton Hotel,” James said. “Additionally, this week we made a huge announcement that we are partnering with Chick-fil-A, they just donated one-half million dollars to support Morris Brown College in our hospitality program as we restore our institution.”
“We have to work to support his efforts to secure the accreditation that paves the way for those federal funding streams and that’s why we are united, not just the congressional delegation, but all the leadership here at the AU center to support President James efforts to secure about accreditation timely,” Ossoff said.