By Jamyra Perry
Pennsylvania’s two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been awarded $3 million dollars to start the fall semester safely.
According to the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC), Lincoln University was awarded $2.25 million and Cheyney University was awarded $750,000 to help school administrators create a safe and healthy learning environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, said the funds serve to fill some of the racial and economic gaps historically found in education.
“While there have been longstanding racial and economic disparities in education, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the danger to communities of color,” Kinsey said. “We in the PLBC were very discouraged by the disproportionate number of coronavirus cases and deaths affecting people of color. While there’s still work to be done, with this funding, we can be encouraged.”
The recent grant funding, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is part of $28 million in federal money allocated to educational institutions across the state to help schools safely reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lincoln University President Dr. Brenda A. Allen said they are grateful for the grant as it will help them serve their students better.
“We thank the Commonwealth for this support that will advance our highest priority: ensuring our students can safely continue their education,” Allen said. “We are committed to protecting the health of our students while also providing the rigorous liberal arts education that our students know and expect.”
The funds can be used for anything from purchasing protective equipment and hand sanitizer/cleaning products, equipment or technology to take classrooms online, installation of barriers or other protective devices in building structures, to purchasing health apps to assist in contact tracing and monitoring students.
State Rep. Donna Bullock said the funds are much needed since African Americans have been dis-proportionally affected by the coronavirus.
“Our students deserve to return to the classroom, either virtually or on campus, knowing that their government is doing everything possible to ensure their health and safety,” Bullock said. “It is even more important to target these funds in schools and communities that are most impacted by this continually-evolving and still deadly pandemic. I am happy to see these funds going to Pennsylvania’s HBCUs.”
Jamyra Perry is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.