WASHINGTON (AP) – The nation‘s historically black colleges and universities are pushing for President Donald Trump to set aside more federal contracts and grants for their schools, and take a greater hand in their welfare by moving responsibility for a key program for those colleges to the White House.

The presidents of the nation‘s 100-plus HBCUs, pressing their case for greater attention from the new Republican-controlled government, met with Trump briefly in the Oval Office and later with Vice President Mike Pence. On Tuesday, they planned to meet with GOP lawmakers.

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn upon arrival at the White House in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, after attending the casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Del., for the four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“Know that beginning today, this administration is committed to ensuring that historically black colleges and universities get the credit and the attention they deserve,” Pence said after the meeting. “Our administration at the president‘s direction is working to find new ways to expand your impact so that more students, especially in the underserved communities of this country, have a chance at a quality education.”

The college presidents, as well as the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and other HBCU advocates, planned to express their support for migrating the White House Initiative on HBCUs from the Education Department to the White House itself.

Such a move would give the initiative “greater impact for our institutions,” said Johnny Taylor, head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit organization that has supported public historically black colleges and universities since 1987.

“Anything that the Trump administration could do to channel more federal dollars in form of grants and contracts to and through the HBCUs would really benefit our institutions and in many cases, our communities, as well,” said Mickey L. Burnim, president of Bowie State University, in Bowie, Md.

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, who donated $250,000 to his alma mater, South Carolina State University, said Monday night: “When you have it in the White House, you have that creditability, that weightiness that goes with it.”

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