Black Colleges received an alarming amount of bomb threats in February, and the White House is acknowledging their stress with grant funding.
Not only was February Black History Month, but it was also a month riddled with countless bomb threats all made to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). These institutions have long been a staple in the civil rights movement, as they continue to serve all communities and students with academic achievement at the forefront of matters. Recognizing the battle these institutes are continuously faced with, the White House is planning on giving grants to HBCUs as a result.
The announcement is supposed to come from the White House this afternoon around 3 pm. It is expected that Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver the message announcing that more than 30 HBCUs will be eligible for the grants from the Department of Education following the onslaught of bomb threats last month. The funds are intended to be used to improve security measures or increase mental health resources for students.
The funding is coming from the Department of Education under their SERV grants program. SERV stands for School Emergency Response to Violence. The intention of the money is to help colleges recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted, such as in the case last month with the bomb threats. This year, the grant program has already given $115 thousand in funds to Plumas Charter Schools in wake of recent wildfires that disrupted learning.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, otherwise known as HBCUs have a long-rooted history in America. There are 107 higher ed institutes across the nation that are considered to be HBCUs. They were all established prior to 1964’s Civil Rights Act with a principle mission to educate Black Americans long before they were allowed in colleges alongside white students. Because they were founded and developed during a time of legal segregation, they are honored for their contributions to the progress of Black Americans throughout the nation’s history. They have also long been the targets of violent acts and bomb threats.
During February’s Black History Month, the campuses of at least 36 HBCUs were the targets of threats, including bomb threats. At least 18 of those colleges and universities were targeted on the first day to mark Black History Month alone. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke of the targeted violence in a statement where she expressed how tough it already was for these colleges considering the already agitated levels of stress and anxiety felt from schools closures and reopenings during the pandemic. Furthermore, she said, “to have this added on, it increased the level of anxiety and apprehension, and they’re feeling it.”
And to address that anxiety level rocking HBCUs since last month’s surge of bomb threats, the Federal Government is allowing these colleges and universities to tap into SERV grant funding. It still remains unclear how much money will be made available through the program, but typically the amounts range between $50 and $150 thousand. This funding is on top of previous initiatives recently rolled out by the Biden administration to increase funding to HBCUs. Under the American Rescue plan, HBCUs were given $5.8 in COVID stimulus money.