Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have a proud legacy. Born out of segregation and slavery, they produced a majority of African American judges, doctors, and teachers and 25 percent of African American graduates in STEM fields — the growth industry of global advancement

These institutions of higher learning are making academic breakthroughs, pioneering new research, and educating our next generation of leaders. They have shaped our society and culture through art, music, exploration of the humanities and sciences.

But many HBCUs are facing dire economic circumstances and as a result, some are facing closure. More than other schools, HBCUs depend on tuition as the main source of revenue. The student body disproportionately relies on federal student aid and loans to pay for expenses at a time when federal assistance is getting cut. 

Tom recognizes that when we provide our nation’s young people the tools to succeed, we are all better off. For the vast majority of Americans, education is the doorway to a fulfilling life and career, which is why Tom is committed to making the necessary critical investments to ensure that more students have the ability to succeed.

Tom commits to:

Investing an unprecedented $125 billion in federal resources to HBCUs. The money will be distributed over the course of ten years, starting with $35 billion in the first year to address immediate infrastructure needs. Tom’s plan then allocates $10 billion dollars every year after that to be used for educators and administrators, technology, infrastructure, student services, and other activities. It would also provide technical assistance and support to build infrastructure to help schools build their endowments and exploration of diverse revenue streams so that HBCUs aren’t reliant on tuition revenue alone.

Creating an HBCU Board of Regents. Within 180 days, the White House Initiative on HBCUs will develop a stronger HBCU governing structure that allows for more independent decision-making without putting federal assistance at risk. It will administer a new HBCU Board of Regents, which will coordinate state and federal resources, programming, and ensure fiscal accountability. It will work with businesses and nonprofits to further research, endowment support, and student services and facilitation of partnerships between industry and academia.

Establishing HBCU Centers of Innovation. HBCUs train the next generation of academics, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Tom will establish or build on existing HBCU Centers of Innovation to train a workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields as well as healthcare, business, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental protection, and social justice.

Fostering Strategic Partnerships. HBCUs generate $14.8 billion in economic activity and support 134,000 jobs within their regional communities–most of which are off-campus. A Steyer Administration will assist schools in forging relationships and formal partnerships with federal, state and local governments and agencies, the private sector, and nonprofits to help address the economic, environmental, and social needs in the communities where they are located. When we empower our young people, their prosperity will build communities — now and for the future.

Finally, a Steyer Administration will support a number of bills that are languishing in Congress’s refusal to comprehensively address the issues facing HBCUs. These bills include:

  • The HBCU Partners Act (H.R. 1054), which requires all federal agencies with programs or oversight of HBCUs to expand their work with the schools. This bill would also codify the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.
  • College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674). This funds student financial assistance and academic programs while also permanently reauthorizing mandatory funding for HBCUs.

Download and print Tom’s HBCU 2030 plan.