U.S. Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris announced a new proposal Friday that would pour billions of dollars into historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and entrepreneurship programs geared toward the black community. The initiative would bolster science and technology education at HBCUs by investing $50 billion to fund STEM-based internships, curriculum, and classes. It would also create a $10 billion grant fund to build HBCU facilities and infrastructure and allocate a $12 billion fund for black business owners.
“As president, I would make a $60 billion investment in STEM education at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions,” said Harris, a graduate of Howard University, on Friday at the National Urban League Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Many of the labs (at HBCUs) are outdated and these campuses need to be upgraded and continue to attract world-class researchers.”
The presidential hopeful added that her proposal would designate funding to create more black teachers. “I’ll also invest another $2.5 billion to support HBCU teacher programs. Why? Well, here’s the thing: if a black child has a black teacher before the end of third grade, that child is 13% more likely to go to college.”
Harris also talked about establishing a grant program that would increase access to capital and credit for black-owned businesses through the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency. “I’ll put $12 billion into federal grants for black entrepreneurs and expand access to capital through federal contracting programs,” said the California senator.
Earlier this year, Harris, who became the first black woman to serve as Attorney General in California and the second black woman to ever be elected as a U.S. Senator, opened up about being second-guessed throughout her career. “I’ve had the setback of attempting to run for office that nobody thought that we could win and all that comes with that,” she said at the BLACK ENTERPRISE Women of Power Summit, adding that people’s doubts in her competences have become her source of motivation. “Good, underestimate me. I can work with that.”
Watch Harris’ speech at the National Urban League conference, starting around the 50:00 mark, by clicking here.