U.S. Senate Passes PARTNERS Act for HBCUs

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Bipartisan legislation passed by the U.S. Senate last week that aims to strengthen partnerships between federal investors and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is now headed to the Oval Office to be signed into law.

The bill, Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students or PARTNERS Act was introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) looks to build stronger support for minority-serving institutions by requiring certain government agencies to submit annual plans that look to strengthen HBCUs participation in federal programs. 

Additionally, the annual reports must show transparency in how the agencies plan to bolster HBCUs in grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and track progress. 

“Our HBCUs have unlocked opportunities for generations of students, especially in underserved communities, and I am excited that this bipartisan bill is making its way to the President’s desk,”  Scott said on Friday.

The passing of the legislation comes after Democratic Rep. Alma S. Adams (NC) and dozens of other members of Congress penned a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture in May asking that HBCUs receive more funding due to financial concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities are agents of access and equity in this country,” said Adams, who is the founder of the Congressional HBCU Caucus.

“The HBCU PARTNERS Act recognizes these contributions in the most important way possible: by affording these institutions the ongoing support and investment needed to deepen their transformational work,” Adams continued.

Six members of Congress voted down on the bill.