Who says there’s nothing but bad news coming out of our nation’s capital?

Despite her usual blunt and frank assessment of what she routinely sees as the “negative” policies of the Republican majority in Congress, and President Donald Trump in particular, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) had little to complain about last week.

Beyond announcing Sunday that she will seek a third term in office, representing Charlotte-Mecklenburg and parts of surrounding counties that make up the 12th Congressional District, and then on Monday being inducted into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s History Hall of Fame, Adams was pleased that many of her district and issue priorities, especially relating to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina and elsewhere, were addressed in the $1.3trillion federal budget that Pres. Trump had threatened not to sign last week, but after a little veto drama, eventually did.

Besides more money for the military and the staving off of another government shutdown, the new budget gave HBCUs the following:

  • The maximum award for Pell Grants is raised by $175.00; however, this does not include an index to inflation, a shift to mandatory funding, or a restoration of Pell Grant eligibility.
  • It increased TRIO and GEAR UP funding by $60 million and $10 million, respectively;
  • National Park Service’s (NPS) HBCU Historic Preservation Program is funded at $5 million, in line with the Clyburn-Adams amendment to the House Interior Appropriations bill;
  • Increased funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program by $10 million to allow schools experiencing financial difficulty due to their loans a deferment on payment for 3 to 6 years.

Congresswoman Adams, the co-chair of the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus, was elated.

“I’m thrilled to see the critical resources for HBCUs for which our coalition advocated, such as the expansion of the Capital Financing Program, included in the 2018 omnibus. This measure will ensure security for nearly a dozen HBCUs and the students they serve, including Bennett College, in North Carolina, through expanded access to essential funding for campus infrastructure and student programs,” she said.

“I led the effort to include this change in the omnibus because, as a professor at Bennett College for 40 years, I witnessed first-hand the opportunities that HBCUs provide their students.  I’m pleased that this bipartisan measure was included, and I will continue to review the bill in its entirety to make certain that it is inclusive of our 12th District priorities.”

Ratification of the Omnibus budget came on the heels of the successful HBCU STEAM Day of Action on Capitol Hill, where the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus joined forces with the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Caucus, and, according to Rep. Adams’ office, “… brought HBCU presidents and administrators from thirty-four schools, including NC A&T, Johnson C. Smith University, Shaw University and Fayetteville State University,  and industry leaders,  to Capitol Hill to meet with key members of Congress and senior staff from both parties and in both chambers. The meetings allowed the coalition to advocate for bipartisan priorities impacting HBCUs and increased efforts to diversify the workforce. Those priorities include increased resources for 1890 land grant universities through the Farm Bill, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, STEM initiatives, and appropriations.

“HBCUs graduate top minority talent, including more than 40% of African American engineers. We cannot diversify our workforce without their inclusion,” Rep. Adams said in a statement. “Despite this fact, HBCUs are not receiving equal resources and opportunities as their peer institutions. The Bipartisan HBCU Caucus is proud to host the first ever HBCU STEAM Day of Action to push for bipartisan legislation to continue fighting for increased resources for our schools and 21st Century opportunities for all.”