Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL), Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Representative Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), and Representative Jonathan Jackson (D-IL) announced the establishment of a new Congressional Caucus. This will focus on educating policymakers and uplifting the needs of Predominantly Black Institutions. The Congressional Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Caucus will unite policymakers. Particularly those who share the goal of understanding and advancing policies to support PBIs.
PBIs were established in 2007 via P.L. 110-84, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. This was to expand access to critical federal grants. Also, to assist institutions with limited institutional wealth. Additionally, it includes colleges and universities serving large percentages of low-income African American students.
Challenges of Black Institutions and Others
Before 2007, these support grants assisted only a subset of institutions. These educate low-income students underrepresented in higher education. These include:
- Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions;
- Hispanic Serving Institutions;
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs);
- and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities.
The 2007 law created grants for
- Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions,
- and Native American-Serving, Non-tribal Institutions.
This allowed them to support low-income and minority students better.
Barack Obama Helped Establish PBIs
Rep. Davis, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), and Rep. Major Owens (D-NY) championed the legislation to establish PBIs. These underfunded institutions that serve hundreds of thousands of students could not receive institutional aid like similar colleges. While there were grants to support the vital work of HBCUs, PBIs cannot be HBCUs. To qualify, HBCUs must have experienced affirmative discrimination by the federal government. And this must have been before the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus, Congress changed the Higher Education Act to better assist underfunded colleges in graduating low-income minority students.
PBIs represent a growing number of four-year and two-year institutions serving as the access point for Black students. This is mainly for those whose personal and financial situations limit their ability to pursue higher education in many states. There are approximately 110 such institutions that serve over 480,000 students. These institutions have minimal institutional wealth. They serve a population of students who are low-income, minority, and first-generation. They are students whose personal finances present unique challenges to educational success. PBIs must meet stringent eligibility requirements related to student enrollment, family income, institutional wealth, and percentage of minority students. The PBI Caucus will work to help policymakers understand the needs of PBIs. This will allow policies to assist these essential institutions better.
“I’m proud to support Predominantly Black Institutions across the nation and at home in the Chicagoland area. PBIs foster Black student success. They offer direct support to first-generation and low-income students. Additionally, they address some of the most pressing challenges facing Black students,” said Rep. Kelly. “I am happy to join with Reps. Davis, Clarke, and Jackson to establish the PBI Caucus. This will advance policies that support these institutions and ensure that their students can achieve their dreams.”
“Predominantly Black Institutions play an essential role in educating Black students in Chicago and across the country,” said Rep. Davis. “I am proud that my work to create PBIs helped bring over $45 million to the PBIs in Chicago, including: Chicago State University; Kennedy-King College; Malcolm X College; Olive-Harvey College; Prairie State College; and South Suburban College. I am pleased to join with Reps. Clarke, Jackson, and Kelly to establish the PBI Caucus to help legislators understand the importance of these colleges and universities and to advance policies to help these institutions and their students thrive.”
“For decades, Predominantly Black Institutions have served to empower students of color with an equitable and quality education,” said Rep. Clarke. “I’ve long fought to ensure PBIs have the funding they need to support our nation’s future leaders and take great pride in my work to secure more than $31 million in funding for New York PBIs, including the City University of New York, Medgar Evers College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Metropolitan College of New York, and others. As members of Congress, we have a moral responsibility to support these colleges for the students who rely on them. I am honored to stand alongside my colleagues in creating this critical PBI Caucus.”
“Black Americans deserve institutions of higher learning that are focused on helping them grow and thrive,” said Rep. Jackson. “That’s why I’m so excited to join my esteemed colleagues to form the first congressional caucus whose sole goal is to advance policies to support Predominantly Black Institutions. Chicagoland is home to several of these scholarly institutions. I look forward to working to aid and uplift them and other PBIs across the country.”
Chicago State University
“We want to thank Reps. Davis, a Chicago State University alumnus, and Clarke, Jackson, and Kelly, for their leadership in forming the Congressional Predominantly Black Institutions Caucus, lifting up the importance of PBI institutions in supporting Black students in higher education all across the nation,” said Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) Scott, Esq., President of Chicago State University. “Minority Serving Institutions play an important role in providing college access to millions of students, often the first in their family to attend college, and the new PBI caucus will aid in bringing needed federal focus to the vital priorities which are unique to this important classification of MSIs.”
Complete College America
“Predominantly Black Institutions are a critical part of our nation’s college completion strategy. They create educational and economic opportunities. This is especially for learners historically underserved by higher education in America. Complete College America is proud to work closely with numerous PBIs who have been industrious in their work to level the playing field for Black students across the US. Supporting PBIs and providing these institutions and their students with resources and tools tailored to the specific needs of their campus communities will advance local, state, and national goals to educate and train a skilled, smart, and engaged future workforce.”
– Yolanda Watson Spiva, President, Complete College America
Kennedy-King College, City Colleges of Chicago
“Funding from PBI grants has allowed Kennedy-King College to build essential systemic supports to ensure positive academic and economic outcomes for our Black students, who comprise over 70% of our student population,” said Dr. Katonja Webb Walker, President of Kennedy-King College. “The flexible nature of these funds leverages our ability to deploy innovative and responsive solutions in ways that traditional funding sources do not. We truly appreciate Congressman Davis, Congressman Jackson, Congresswoman Kelly, and Congresswoman Clarke. They continue to support the needs of our students.”
Malcolm X College, City College of Chicago
“PBI funding has served as a critical vehicle for community colleges to eliminate barriers to access, resolve equity issues and support students in successfully completing their educational objectives. Malcolm X College has received nearly $7M in PBI funding to help Black students realize the American dream. My deep appreciation goes to U.S. Reps Danny K. Davis, Yvette Clarke, Jonathan Jackson and Robin Kelly for their advocacy and support of our students.”
– David A. Sanders, President, Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago
Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY)
“I am pleased Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and our Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, of the U.S. House of Representatives (Medgar Evers College’s Representative), along with House of Representatives Jackson (D-IL), and Kelly (D-IL), established a new Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Caucus to educate policymakers about PBIs and the great work that PBIs do in positively impacting the social mobility index. Because PBIs serve some of the nation’s neediest students, it is critical that these institutions are provided with adequate resources to positively impact student success and contribute to the knowledge economy of this nation. Many thanks to these Representatives,” said Dr. Patricia Ramsey, President of Medgar Evers College-CUNY
Lezli Baskeville is President & CEO of NAFEO. This is the membership and advocacy association for all HBCUs and PBIs. She is incredibly grateful to Congressman Danny Davis and the other Members of Congress who joined him in establishing a Congressional PBI Caucus. Baskerville recalls, “With leadership from Congressman Davis and then-Congressman Major Owens of New York, in 2004, NAFEO began leading the advocacy group effort that resulted in passage of the legislation establishing a grant program for under-resourced institutions that educate disproportionate of low-income Black Americans.
The establishment of PBIs, as part of the class of American colleges and universities known as Minority Serving Institutions, assured that America’s richly diverse higher education system would open wider the doors of opportunity for Black Americans of fewer financial means for whom a high education might not otherwise be possible. Since then, as the ranks of champions for PBIs swelled with unstinting leadership from Reps. Davis, Yvette Clarke (NY), Robin Kelly (IL), and Jonathan Jackson (IL), funding for PBIs has increased but it still lags behind others in its class. The PBI Caucus will provide a potent vehicle through which to raise the volume and expand the ranks of those who will relentlessly advocate for more equitable congressional funding and other investments in PBIs. NAFEO will continue to provide leadership in this vital next step toward equity for PBIs.”
Olive-Harvey College, City Colleges of Chicago
“As a leader of a predominantly Black institution, I would like to thank the U.S. Representatives for creating the PBI Caucus to advance policies that improve Black student retention and graduation rates,” said Dr. Kimberly Hollingsworth, President of Olive-Harvey College (OHC). “Their leadership has been instrumental in increasing college access for Black students and has helped OHC recruit and financially support Black students as they reach their educational goals.”
Prairie State College
“There are not enough words to express my personal gratitude, and the gratitude of the Prairie State College community, to Reps. Davis, Clarke, Jackson, and Kelly for their formation of the PBI Caucus. Rep. Kelly is a resident of our district and a long-time supporter of our work. As a former faculty member at PSC, she knows that we, and other PBI’s, are on the front lines of teaching the next generation of Black and low-income scholars, while simultaneously meeting the workforce needs of our community and local employers.” – Dr. Michael D. Anthony, President of Prairie State College
South Suburban College
“At South Suburban College, we support the creation of the Congressional Predominantly Black Institutions Caucus, extending our appreciation to Representatives Davis, Clarke, Jackson, and Kelly for championing Predominantly Black Institutions. These institutions are vital in offering accessible higher education, particularly for marginalized students, and are often a gateway to the collegiate journey for minority and low-income populations. As a dedicated institution to student achievement, we recognize the invaluable role PBIs play in promoting educational equity. SSC looks forward to collaborating with the PBI Caucus, striving to advance policies that empower PBIs in their mission to deliver high-quality education.” – Dr. Lynette Stokes, President of South Suburban College
Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF)
“We extend our sincere thanks and congratulations to Representatives Davis, Jackson, Clarke and Kelly on the establishment of the Congressional Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Caucus,” said Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) President and CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams. “PBIs play a critical role in educating Black Americans, helping to close the racial wealth gap and educating the diverse workforce needed to ensure America’s global competitiveness. TMCF is proud to represent Chicago State University, Medgar Evers College and York College, three PBIs that do the tremendous work everyday of serving the underserved and we look forward to working closely with the new PBI Caucus for the betterment of these institutions and their students.”