UNCF’s Protect our Future Campaign Generated 65,000 Letters Sent by HBCU Advocates
UNCF’s strong urging via a groundbreaking digital campaign worked to break logjam and finally advance funding permanently for HBCUs and other institutions serving minority populations
UNCF is pleased and relieved with the U.S. Senate’s passage of the modified H.R. 2486, the FUTURE Act. The bill now permanently extends $255 million, annually, of mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outcomes at those institutions, among other things. Previously, the bill provided mandatory funding for two years. $85 million of the overall total is specific for HBCUs, which has helped these institutions significantly increase STEM outcomes over the last 12 years.
“We have yet another reason to be thankful this season,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF’s president and CEO. “We thank the thousands of HBCU advocates who took action through our digital campaign as well as Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, who now have another, in a long list of bipartisan compromises, joint effort for which they can take credit. Senators Tim Scott and Doug Jones are always essential in our work, as are many others who spoke up when HBCUs needed them most. This permanent funding solution, which would stave off unnecessary cuts for our institutions, will allow HBCUs to continue fostering innovation and inspiring future leaders in the STEM disciplines—and that helps our nation.”
“Congress works best when the efforts are bipartisan, and this is just another example that HBCU efforts bring both Democrats and Republicans together,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, UNCF’s senior vice president of public policy and government affairs. “UNCF could not be prouder to have worked closely with key Senators to reimagine FUTURE to be a permanent solution, and now we urge the House to pass the new FUTURE Act quickly, just as it did the previous version of the bill in September. Then, we call on the President to sign the bill into law.”
“If this new FUTURE Act becomes law, let us note the rarity of this moment,” Murray concluded. “Standalone bills like this that focus solely on minority populations and specifically benefit HBCUs, rarely pass in this manner. The last time a substantive standalone bill focused on these populations became law was the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000, Public Law 106-525. If Congress acts on FUTURE quickly, this will be a once-a-generation occurrence.”
Working in a bipartisan manner, Senators Alexander (R-TN), Murray (D-WA), Jones (D-AL), Scott (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Chris Coons (D-DE) reached a compromise by attaching another priority bill – the FAFSA Act – to the FUTURE Act. The FAFSA Act simplifies and streamlines efforts to provide private tax information transmitted by students and their parents to the federal government. Now, instead of providing that information twice (once to the IRS and again to the Department of Education), it will only be provided once, eliminating a process called “verification”, which was also an impediment to low-income and underserved students advancing their education.