Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks at Allen University in Columbia on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. Jamie Lovegrove/Staff

COLUMBIA — Jamie Lovegrove of The Post and Courier reports, Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer on Tuesday proposed investing $125 billion over 10 years in historically black colleges and universities as he works to gain ground in the early-voting primary state of South Carolina.

By spending millions of his own personal fortune on the campaign, the billionaire former hedge fund manager and longtime liberal activist has risen from a little-known outsider to become a credible contender in the polls and a fixture on the Democratic debate stages.

His HBCU proposal would also promote studies in innovation, foster community partnerships and establish a Board of Regents to oversee all 101 institutions nationwide — eight of which can be found in the Palmetto State.

Steyer sat down with The Post and Courier to talk more about his proposal and campaign. The following transcript has been edited and condensed.

Why do you believe it is important to spend this much money on HBCUs?

These are institutions that were designed specifically to combat historic racism and prejudice, that do fulfill those roles and that have been starved for capital. If you take a look, they have seen 42 percent of their federal funding disappear from 2003 to 2015. These are schools that have relied traditionally disproportionately on tuition. So we have the poorest people with institutions that don’t have great state support or equivalent state support, don’t have great federal support and don’t have huge endowments. So they’ve really been struggling economically at the same time that they’re at least as critical as they’ve ever been in terms of offering that opportunity to low-income African Americans. So it’s really important that these institutions for a variety of reasons be supported and strengthened. Read more via The Post and Courier.