UNCF Lays Groundwork to Advance Agenda with the Trump-Pence Administration and Congress
For 73 years, UNCF, as a non-partisan organization, has worked across the aisle with presidents and members of Congress of all political persuasions toward a common goal: ensuring that African American students have the opportunity to go to and through college and on to successful careers, and that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which for 150 years have provided college opportunities for these students, not only survive, but thrive.
UNCF worked with the previous administration and the Congressional Black Caucus to advance key initiatives, such as the inclusion of HBCUs in America’s College Promise, and we are proud of that collaboration. During the recent campaign and after his election, President Trump and his administration have also expressed an interest in HBCUs. In response, UNCF has offered our data, research, recommendations and policy expertise to inform the new administration of the needs of HBCUs and for specific federal policies that will positively impact HBCUs and the students they serve.
In December 2016, UNCF prepared and submitted “A Memo to President-elect Donald Trump: Ten Ways to Invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” which laid out a substantive 10-point plan in support of HBCUs. This plan identified its top two priorities for HBCUs: a stronger, new White House executive order aimed at increasing federal support for HBCUs, and a White House summit with HBCU leaders.
In addition, UNCF and other African American organizations participated in a “listening session” hosted by the Trump transition team on January 4, 2017, where members of the transition team learned about key concerns of African American leaders and organizations.
Since the inauguration, senior White House staff have reached out to UNCF to invite our further input to identify policy priorities important to the HBCU community. UNCF, along with HBCU-coalition partners the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), provided input to White House staff on the development of a new executive order on HBCUs. The HBCU coalition collectively, and UNCF individually, recommended several key proposals for White House consideration in drafting a new, strong executive order, including:
- Establish the White House Initiative on HBCUs in the White House (rather than in the U.S. Department of Education), led by an executive director who reports to a senior adviser to the president.
- Commit to an aspirational goal that HBCUs be awarded five percent of total federal grant, internship and cooperative agreement funding; and 10 percent of total federal contract funding awarded to colleges and universities, which would nearly double federal support to HBCUs.
- Require transparent and timely reporting on progress to the president, Congress and HBCUs.
For further impact, UNCF provided to the new administration Six Top Priorities for consideration in the development of the federal FY 2018 budget. These policies are:
- A strong White House executive order on HBCUs.
- Full funding of Title III HBCU programs.
- The protection and strengthening of Pell Grants and an increase in work-study grants.
- Investment in HBCUs facilities and infrastructure.
- Support of new HBCU centers of innovation for national needs.
- Regulatory repeal and reform.
When only six percent of African American children graduate from high school college-ready, and only 22 percent of African American young adults have earned bachelor’s degrees, it is clear that our nation’s promise to provide equal opportunity for higher education for students of diverse backgrounds is still unfulfilled, while the need for that education grows more essential each year.
We hope that President Trump will make it a national priority to make a college education more accessible and affordable to more Americans in order to create the diverse, college-educated workforce that the nation needs to compete globally in the current and future economy. There is much work to do. UNCF and our 37 member historically black colleges and universities are ready to work with the Trump-Pence administration and Congress on these critical challenges this year and in the years ahead.
We look forward to championing the important efforts that we began with the previous administration and with legislators of both parties to create better futures for all Americans through education and to create new opportunities for HBCUs.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF