Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, introduced legislation to strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students — HBCU PARTNERS — Act was introduced along with Sens. Doug Jones, D-Alabama; David Perdue, R-Georgia; Kamala Harris, D-California; Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, and Alma Adams, D-North Carolina.

The act builds on the president’s 2017 executive order on HBCUs. It will require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to undertake annual planning and coordinate their efforts to support and expand HBCU participation in those programs. The bill strengthens the rigor and transparency requirements of existing law by requiring that agencies track their progress toward past goals and share their plans with Congress. In addition, it codifies the president’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for the institutions’ priorities and policy concerns to be raised.

“HBCUs today continue their tradition of opening higher education to new generations of students,” said Coons. “They educate 300,000 students across the country, 70 percent of whom receive Pell grants and charge almost 30 percent less tuition than their peer institutions. I’m proud to make sure that federal agencies actively work to support HBCUs’ critical missions.”