A June 2018 Government Accountability Office Report identified “extensive and diverse” capital project needs at HBCUs. The report also noted that “HBCUs continue to face challenges in securing financing to undertake needed capital projects” and that these colleges may be unable to make the campus improvements necessary to attract and retain students, potentially jeopardizing their long-standing sustainability.”
To address this problem, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, and U.S. Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina are co-sponsoring the Institutional Grants for New Infrastructure, Technology, and Education (IGNITE) HBCU Excellence Act.
Specifically, the legislation provides support for HBCUs to:
- Utilize public and private investments to renovate, repair, modernize, or construct new campus facilities, including instructional, research, and residential spaces.
- Preserve buildings with historic significance.
- Ensure the resilience, safety, and sustainability of campus facilities.
- Provide access to campus–wide, reliable high–speed broadband to support digital learning and long–term technological capacity.
- Improve campus facilities to support community–based partnerships that provide students and community members with academic, health, and social services.
- Procure equipment and technology to facilitate high–quality research and instruction.
In a commentary in The Hill, Senator Scott and Representative Adams stated that “our bill invests in new infrastructure and technology and uses the power of private partnerships to enhance and grow these schools. HBCUs already have strong outcomes. The IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act is the right investment at the right time to make sure these institutions continue on the path to greatness.”