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Obama, Davis Initiative to Fund Predominantly Black Institutions Passes Senate

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Obama, Davis Initiative to Fund Predominantly Black Institutions Passes Senate

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL) today praised the Senate's passage of the Conference Report of Higher Education Reconciliation (H.R. 2669), which provides $15 million in annual funding for Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). In May, Obama joined with Davis to introduce the Senate version of the Predominantly Black Institutions Act (S.1513). This proposal establishes a program for 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.

"For decades, Predominantly Black Institutions have given our students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's economy, and their recognition is long overdue," Senator Obama said. "This funding will invest in a new generation of leaders by strengthening these institutions. Higher education remains too far out of reach for many students and we must break down any barriers that are preventing our kids from getting the world-class education they deserve. I want to thank Congressman Danny Davis for his continued leadership on this issue."

"I am particularly pleased that the Conference Report of Higher Education Reconciliation -- HR 2669, reserves significant new resources to strengthen the capacity of Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs)," said Congressman Davis. "Working with Senator Obama we have been successful in recognizing these institutions for the first time in statute, creating grants for them to offer programs promoting science, technology, engineering, health education and teacher education. Given the number and caliber of PBIs in Chicago, I am confident that many of our local institutions, and most importantly many of our young men and women, will benefit from this new program."

More than a quarter of a million students would benefit from grants awarded as a result of the PBI designation. Grants can 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 grants will provide more opportunities for equal academic achievement to minority students.

In Illinois, examples of institutions that could benefit from this program include: City Colleges of Chicago - Kennedy-King College; Chicago State University; South Suburban College; City Colleges of Chicago - Harold Washington College; City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College; City Colleges of Chicago - Olive-Harvey College; and East-West University.
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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