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Obama Introduces Bill to Recognize and Fund Predominantly Black Institutions

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Obama Introduces Bill to Recognize and Fund Predominantly Black Institutions

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) last week introduced a bill that would create an official designation in higher education law and provide funding for Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). The PBI designation would provide grants to approximately 75 urban and rural colleges and technical programs that serve a large number of African American students - many who are the first in their families to attend college.

"Many students attending Predominantly Black Institutions have already beaten the odds to progress this far," said Senator Obama. "These institutions have for years given our children the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's economy, and their recognition is long overdue. To restore America's competitiveness we must invest in the success of traditionally underrepresented groups. This bill provides a good start in reaching that goal."

More than a quarter of a million students would benefit from grants awarded as a result of the PBI designation. Grants could be used for a variety of purposes, from acquiring laboratory equipment to supporting teacher education to establishing community outreach programs for pre-college students.

This legislation would amend the Higher Education Act to provide resources to Predominantly Black Institutions. These institutions are primarily urban and rural two-year colleges that serve at least 50 percent low-income or first-generation college students. This designation is projected to apply to 75 institutions in 17 states, benefiting approximately 265,000 students. While Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) also serve African-American students, institutions with this designation were established prior to 1964 and are not required to serve students with financial hardship. The PBI bill, which was first introduced by Illinois Congressman Danny Davis, will provide more opportunities for equal academic achievement to minority students.

The PBI bill is supported by the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the United Negro College Fund, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

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