Funding Higher Education

What is the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

In 1980 President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order 12232 and established the White House Initiative on HBCUs. The purpose of the initiative was to provide a structure to help these institutions have access to, participate in, and benefit from federally funded programs. Those presidents who followed Carter, including President Barack Obama, have all signed executive orders reaffirming the mandate begun by Carter and, in doing so, strengthened the HBCU grants program while also giving it national attention. These presidents acknowledge the historic and ongoing contributions of HBCUs to the general welfare and prosperity of America. HBCUs were founded by visionary leaders and for over 150 years they have produced national leaders in business, government, academia, the military, and other arenas. They have also given generations of men and women hope and educational opportunity.

There are 106 HBCUs located in twenty states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They continue as important engines of economic growth and community service, and serve people of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, especially African Americans. Currently, the White House Initiative supports the HBCUs by providing funds from the U.S. Department of Education for the HBCU Capital Financing program. The initiative also provides support to strengthen the Historically Black Graduate Institutions program, for comprehensive science and technology workforce programs at the National Science Foundation, and Pell grants to help finance student tuition and fees at HBCUs.

President Jimmy Carter signed the executive order that helped HBCUs obtain benefits from federally funded education programs.


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