HBCU Coalition Launched to Meet Student Needs
Historically, black colleges and universities have been underfunded for decades, and resources are even more strained at historically black community colleges.
“A lot of these little colleges are small and mighty, but they lack the resources of the big, flagship universities,” said former Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni. “They don’t have government relations constantly pushing for funding.”
Qarni is now the general manager of external affairs at the Hope Center, and his team works there to help HBCUs better meet their needs.
The Hope Center on Thursday launched its #RealCollegeHBCU coalition, which will tackle declining STEM enrollment and build the capacity of schools to defend themselves at the state and federal levels.
Ten HBCUs joined the initiative, including four in Alabama: Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery, Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, and Drake State in Huntsville.
Over the next six months, each HBCU will receive training and resources from the Hope Center and its partner The Center for the Study of HBCUs to build student affairs capacity.
“The vast majority of students have these real needs and real costs that haven’t been fully considered by institutions and policy makers,” Qarni said. “The old way of thinking with college is that you only have to think about tuition, but you have to look at all the expenses, all the actual costs that a student incurs.”
The Hope Center surveyed 5,000 HBCU students in the fall of 2020, and two-thirds of them said they had experienced basic needs in insecurity. This could include lack of access to nutritious food, adequate housing, transportation, or childcare.
Qarni said schools need to be better equipped to help their students with these issues.
“We really encourage states to review their financial assistance programs and emergency programs to make sure the funding application formula is fair, equitable, and truly keeps HBCUs in mind,” he said. -he declares.
Encouraging schools to develop solutions through policy programs is another aspect of the support the coalition will provide.
“We are taking a stand against inequality and building institutional capacity for HBCUs. Right now is a good time to do this good work,” said Terrell Strayhorn, director of the Center for the Study of HBCUs.
The initiative will be led by Ashley Gray, senior learning specialist at the Hope Center, and will operate with funding from the ECMC Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Hadley Hitson covers the rural South for the Montgomery Advertiser and Report for America. She can be contacted at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Trenholm State and Other Alabama Schools Join New HBCU Coalition