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Georgia’s HBCUs deserve more funding and attention

Burt Jones

 

For far too long, our state’s historically Black colleges and universities have not properly received the recognition or the funding that they deserve. The impact of Georgia’s HBCUs is felt far beyond their campuses.

I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how our HBCUs are impacting higher education, economic growth and workforce development in positive ways across the state. This past fall, I had the honor of joining Democratic state Sens. Sonya Halpern and Freddie Powell Sims, along with three members of the majority caucus, for a tour of Georgia’s public and private HBCUs.

During the tours, we met with presidents, leadership staff, faculty and students to learn more about each campus, their unique programs and their initiatives to address a variety of needs across Georgia. Throughout these meetings, the need for proper funding and recognition of the economic potential of these institutions was consistently raised.

For our HBCUs to be successful and reach their full potential, they must be fully funded.

I enjoyed working with Sen. Halpern and the rest of my colleagues in the Georgia state Senate Monday to pass Senate Bill 235, legislation creating the HBCU Innovation and Economic Prosperity Planning Districts Commission.

This commission would explore the many ways we can better support our esteemed Georgia HBCUs and ensure they can make a lasting impact on the infrastructure, workforce and economic development of their surrounding communities and beyond. I am thankful that the Senate has supported this priority, which will have a lasting impact on the next generations of Georgians.

In addition to the commission, we are working to invest a million dollars in broadband infrastructure for the Atlanta University Center Consortium, the world’s oldest and largest association of historically Black colleges and universities. The Atlanta University Center Consortium is made up of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.

It is vitally important that we appropriate funding for these institutions to receive broadband. This investment will allow students at the participating HBCUs to access high-speed internet.

Another investment we are making into our state’s HBCUs is a $100,000 appropriation for a feasibility study for a veterinary school at Fort Valley State University. This study would determine the economic and developmental impacts of a veterinary program at Fort Valley State and would be the first of its kind at a HBCU in Georgia. This is yet another instance of the untapped potential of our state’s HBCUs.

Our HBCUs have the opportunity to grow as hubs of both economic and workforce development in our state. To do so, we must provide them with the tools and infrastructure necessary to succeed. Long overlooked, HBCUs already provide a large number of positives for our state. Their impact can be felt throughout Georgia, and it is time now to properly give them the recognition, and funding that they deserve.

With the implementation of the HBCU Innovation and Economic Prosperity Planning Districts Commission, in addition to a properly funded educational infrastructure, we can make a tremendous step forward in achieving those goals.

Republican Burt Jones serves as Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor.

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