On Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 2486, the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act.

The legislation would allow historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to continue receiving $255 million of critical annual government funding  to improve academic quality and ensure their financial stability.

Additionally, the focus of the funding would be to maintain and improve various programs within high demand fields and majors such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The funding under Title III, which has been administered by the Department of Education since 2008, is set to expire at the end of September.

HBCUs represent 8.5 percent of the four-year institutions across the 21 states and territories they are located in. On average, they also enroll 24 percent of all Black undergraduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a college or university, graduate 26 percent of all Black bachelor’s degree recipients and award 32 percent of STEM degrees to Black students, according to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

At the White House Initiative’s HBCUs Conference last week, President Donald J. Trump praised and acknowledged the impact of HBCUs.

“For more than 180 years, HBCUs have strengthened our country and called America to greatness,” he said. “This nation owes a profound and enduring debt of gratitude to its HBCUs.”

Advocacy organizations celebrated the passage of the legislation in the House of Representatives.

“These institutions of higher education, which serve an outsized share of the nation’s college students of color and students from low-income families, are essential to providing college access for millions of students, increasing educational attainment and providing the surest path to socioeconomic mobility,” said Denise Forte, senior vice president for partnership and engagement at The Education Trust. “We are pleased that the House of Representatives has taken this important first step toward guaranteeing that critical funding for HBCUs and MSIs will not be disrupted.”

To demonstrate their support for the FUTURE Act, UNCF launched the “Protecting Our FUTURE” campaign. Since the campaign’s establishment, there have been over 38,000 phone calls and emails to members of Congress, UNCF reported.

However, there is still more work to be done.

Now, institution leaders and representatives are urging for the FUTURE Act to be passed in the Senate.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama encouraged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support the legislation.

“These schools are a part of the very foundation of our higher education system but they lack many of the same financial resources that predominately white schools can count on,” Jones said. “That’s why I am calling on Senator McConnell to bring the FUTURE Act up for a vote and take the next step to give these schools the certainty they need to continue serving their students and fulfill their mission.”

Lodriguez V. Murray, vice president of public policy and government affairs at UNCF, said that he hopes that Congress will “act as a pathway for passage” and not a “roadblock.”

“A vote for this bill is a vote for low-income, first-generation college students of color and for institutions that serve a large number of these students,” Murray said. “These institutions are located across the country, touching the districts of nearly every single Member of Congress.”

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