Brown, Congressional Delegation Conclude Review of DoD Investments at HBCUs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) recently led a Congressional Delegation with Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), Congressmen Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Al Lawson (FL-05) to Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University and North Carolina A&T State University to discuss the DoD HBCU/MI program and the important effort to expand STEM opportunities and increase DoD investments in HBCUs.
Congressman Brown, helped secure a 14% increase ($7M) in funding for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) HBCU/MI program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. This program is designed to increase the participation of HBCU/MIs and minority students in the Department of Defense’s research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) programs and activities.
“With bipartisan support, Congress is expanding a multi-year effort to increase DoD investments in HBCUs and enhance partnerships that will meet America’s evolving national security needs,” said Congressman Brown. “HBCUs produce about 37 percent of African American officers commissioned through ROTC, and 25 percent of the African Americans with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The DoD HBCU/MI program is critical to boosting STEM opportunities for our underrepresented communities and bolstering the pipeline of highly skilled, diverse graduates into the Armed Forces and other parts of the defense industrial base. As Congress makes the needed investments to better meet the defense mission, it is critical that we increase the funding opportunities for research and collaboration with these diverse institutions and students.”
The trip explored the collaboration between HBCUs and the Department of Defense, and ways to expand research opportunities for faculty and staff.
“HBCUs account for approximately six percent of all U.S. institutions conducting R&D yet, they only receive about one percent of all federal academic R&D support. This trip highlights the critical need for increased investments in research and development funding for our schools,” said Congresswoman Adams. “I’m proud to have worked with Rep. Brown to secure a $7 million dollar increase in the HBCU/MI Research program at the Department of Defense in this year’s omnibus, but our work is not complete. As we look to funding for the next fiscal year, I remain committed to ensuring that HBCUs receive an equitable share of resources so they can continue to conduct groundbreaking research for the future.”
The trip included meetings with University and College leadership, review of existing research partnerships and the ROTC programs, and conversations with students and faculty on areas for growth. The Congressional Delegation heard about the significant role HBCUs play in educating African-Americans in the STEM fields and creating a pipeline of African-American graduates ready to enter higher-income and leadership professions.
“Some of the most important and advanced scientific research in the nation is taking place at HBCUs,” said Congressman Johnson. “We must ensure that innovation and expertise receives continued funding it deserves and needs to thrive, while developing a minority workforce that excels at science, technology, engineering, and math. I applaud the work Rep. Brown and others are doing to boost funding for HBCUs, but we have more work to do to ensure they are fully funded.”
"I look forward to the ongoing work of Rep. Brown to further develop the pipeline of highly-skilled college graduates into the U.S. Armed Services. Through this partnership, we will continue to diversify and strengthen our nation's armed forces with the best and brightest our community has to offer,” said Congressman Lawson. “FAMU contributes more than 35 percent of all African-American commissioned army officers in the nation. Establishing programs through HBCUs will continue to attract top talent and allow individuals access to a promising career in the U.S Armed Services.”
"I thank Rep. Anthony Brown along with Rep. Adams, Rep. Johnson, and Rep. Lawson for coordinating this trip to five flagship HBCUs. I was proud to join these members of Congress to understand how Defense related investments to HBCUs betters our country for the future," said Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF (United Negro College Fund). "UNCF has long called for strong STEM-related investments at all HBCUs. One example of the need for this investment are thousands of engineering employment opportunities that are vacant right now in our country. It is obvious that STEM-related careers are in demand now. That demand will only increase, and our students must be prepared and poised to compete in this technology based economy. Further, the use of technology is now how our country protects itself. Diversity in all fields is not just important--it is a must. As we invest more at the Department of Defense, in national security, and in the future waves of technology, the diverse workforce to create that technology is at the top of our priorities. It is our hope that the Department of Defense values the diversity and perspective our students can provide them."
Since 2010, the Defense Department has awarded more than 275 competitive research and equipment grants to HBCUs and MIs including Morgan State University (Maryland), North Carolina A&T State University (North Carolina) and Florida A&M University (Florida). The program was uniquely designed to bring diversity and people of color into the United States military from HBCUs, Predominantly Black Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Alaskan Native-Serving Institutions by cultivating and strengthening their scientific and technical infrastructure and academic capabilities. In addition, the program supports Centers of Excellence (COEs) for Battlefield Capability Enhancements. COEs recruit, educate and train outstanding students and post-doctoral researchers in science and technology areas relevant to the Army, such as cybersecurity, research data analysis, nanotechnology, materials science and autonomy. Overall, the DoD HBCU/MI program plays an important role in assisting HBCUs and MIs by cultivating and strengthening their scientific and technical infrastructure and academic capabilities.