(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will be eligible for new grant funding following a series of bomb threats made against them.
The Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program under the Department of Education is intended to enhance campus security and provide mental health resources by providing short-term, immediate funding for institutions that have experienced a “violent or traumatic incident.”
Harris “will make clear that every American should be able to learn, work, worship, and gather without fear,” a White House official told ABC News. The announcement will be made at the White House on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
HBCUs targeted by the threats could receive grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 per campus and will be determined based on specific needs. No bombs were found.
The campuses of at least 36 HBCUs and other colleges have been targeted by threats and at least 18 of these colleges and universities were targeted on Feb. 1 alone — the first day of Black History Month.
Institutions went into lockdown or evacuated the campus while local law enforcement agencies investigated the threats.
“Threats to the education and well-being of Black Americans and HBCUs are an unfortunate part of American history,” the press release read. “The bomb threats that we witnessed in January, each week in February – Black History Month, and this month are reminiscent of the attempts during the Civil Rights Era to intimidate and provoke fear in Black Americans.”
These threats came as hate crimes against Black Americans are on the rise, increasing by nearly 50% between 2019 and 2020, according to the FBI.
Several federal agencies are taking on this issue. The Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have met with HBCU leaders on tools they can use to strengthen campus security.
A Congressional hearing is also being held on Thursday to hear what the federal government can do to support HBCUs.
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