Our nation’s historically black colleges and universities have been getting a lot of bad press of late.

They lack quality education and degree offerings. They can’t meet accreditation requirements. Enrollment is down.

Valencia Bean has heard it all.

But here’s a fact that, in her mind, can’t be repeated often enough and should never be forgotten: Not only were HBCUs the first to give African Americans the opportunity to obtain higher education when virtually no other colleges would, they remain vitally important in the black community, especially when it comes to closing wealth and achievement gaps.

That means everything to Bean, and it ought to mean something to the rest of us.

A lot of people give lip service to the importance of education. Bean and the other members of the Pearls of Purpose Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of the Nu Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., have for 32 years given scholarships so deserving Atlanta and Fulton County school students can attend college.

Just a week ago, the foundation handed out $31,000 in scholarships at its annual Pink Pearl Mother-Daughter Luncheon, and through its signature College Admissions Program — #CAP — it is helping students with entrance exams and application fees.

Read more here.