The president released an outline of his proposal on Wednesday, calling on Congress to spend $20 billion to upgrade research laboratories at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, “including the creation of a new lab focused on climate that will be affiliated with an HBCU.” That is half of the total amount the president is proposing for new research facilities.
This isn’t the first time that the Biden administration has paid special attention to minority-serving institutions. The coronavirus stimulus bill enacted earlier this month reserves $3 billion for such institutions.
The White House plan also proposes $12 billion for states to shore up both the “physical and technological infrastructure needs” at public two-year colleges. The plan would also direct states to improve access to such colleges for students living in education deserts.
Community colleges could also receive some of the $40 billion the White House is proposing to retrain displaced workers for jobs in “high-demand sectors such as clean energy, manufacturing, and caregiving.”
Broadly, many colleges would also benefit from the plan’s goal of expanding access to broadband internet service.
A coalition of community-college leaders praised the president’s plan as a way to undo some of the financial damage of Covid-19. “Our students have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said a statement from an organization called Rebuilding America’s Middle Class, which has members from seven states.
The Biden administration is also proceeding with plans for free community college, according to news accounts. Announcement of that program could come next month.