Historically Black Colleges Given $9.7M By National Park Services

The National Park Services has rewards historically black colleges with funds to preserve notable college campuses across the US.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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The National Park Service (NPS) is awarding $9.7 million in grants to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This funding is to preserve 21 sites at 19 of these institutions. Since the 1990s, $87 million in grants have been dispersed to these universities by the NPS.

The pandemic response was especially hard on historically black colleges. While many of these universities have offered affordable academic opportunities where minorities can study in comfort, it was well publicized in 2020 that these institutes of learning would be made vulnerable due to lockdowns. Just this year, Lincoln College in Illinois shut its doors, never to reopen. The school was relying on virtual learning practices to serve students throughout the pandemic, but an upsurge in cyber crime attacks destroyed their system, and without proper in-class instruction, the school was eventually forced to shut down after 157 years of operation. Knowing the negative impacts of these sorts of outcomes, the National Park Service has been a beacon of hope. 

Providing funding to historic sites has become a lesser-known aspect of the National Park Service. Although mainly known for caring for United States Federal Parks, this taxpayer-funded organization doesn’t just protect and preserve natural spaces. It also works to revitalize communities by preserving historic spaces in a celebration of local heritage while also working to engage visitors with activities and outdoor experiences. 

At the start of the pandemic, many concerns were expressed. From public health issues, to economic impacts and the long-term effects of excessive COVID-19 lockdown strategies were expressed by many officials throughout the nation. It was noted how devastating lockdown procedures could be for historically black colleges especially being that they often serve students from low-income backgrounds and would be less likely to recover as quickly as other learning institutions. Fast forward to the present and universities are still struggling through record enrollment drops, teacher shortages, and rising inflation. Providing historically black colleges with the support needed to continue to preserve their campuses and offer young adults the opportunity to experience college with an appreciation of the history of minority support that these schools have offered is something the National Park Service is proud to provide. 

Thanks to these grants, North Carolina SAT&T State University will be able to update and maintain its World War Memorial Stadium. As one of the oldest baseball parks in the nation, the structure is nearly 100 years old. The park holds 7,500 people and will be able to offer more great experiences thanks to the recent National Park Service grants. 

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As colleges struggle to serve students’ interests and needs in an economy rife with economic uncertainty and societal division, preserving history has lost popularity among some crowds. Thankfully the National Park Service is prepared to help communities remember where they came from. Historically black colleges are being given aid to properly care for aged monuments and buildings. Those wishing to apply for future grants, awarded through the 2022 fiscal year, will be able to do so this fall.