President Donald Trump will deliver remarks at the 2019 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Conference on Tuesday, Sept. 10, a White House official exclusively told BLACK ENTERPRISE Friday.

More than 1,800 people are expected to attend the conference, which is themed “Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement. Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance,” including representatives from each HBCU around the country. It will be held Sept. 8–10 in Washington, D.C. Sources did not specify where Trump will make his speech.

In 2017, President Trump promised to make HBCUs an “absolute priority” and increase federal funding for these institutions. Since then, HBCUs have been included in the federal five-year STEM Education Plan and the federal Research and Development Budget Priorities. In addition, investment in HBCU programs has increased under Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to a White House statement, this has resulted in the following:

  • A $35 million increase in the Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program
  • A $9 million increase in the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions
  • A $1 million increase in the Strengthening HBCU Masters Programs
  • Meaningful increases investments in student support like Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Increases in Howard University’s annual appropriation by nearly $11 million, bringing its fiscal year 2018 investment level to $232.5 million
  • The bill also increased by $30 million investments in the HBCU Capital Financing Program, helping eight schools experiencing financial difficulty to redesign and restructure to better meet student and community needs and fulfill loan obligations

Republican President Ronald Reagan created the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities back in 1981. In 2002, President George W. Bush moved the initiative from the White House to the Department of Education. President Barack Obama’s administration also put a number of pro-HBCU reforms into place, including doubling the annual investment in Pell Grants, tripling investment in higher education tax benefits, making student loans cheaper to repay, and increasing institutional aid to minority-serving institutions.

In addition, in 2016, Obama revamped a series of laws and regulations that aimed to curb the number of black and brown students who are disproportionately classified by schools as having disabilities and placed into special education. Trump’s U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, however, has delayed implementation. The matter is currently being reviewed in court.