In order to woo voters-of-color, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris announced a major plan to narrow the opportunity gap.
Harris proposed $60 billion investment in STEM education at historically black colleges and universities – along with other minority-serving institutions – to foster entrepreneurship among the black community members.
The proposal would fund the construction of classrooms, labs, and other facilities at HBCUs and other MSIs through a $10 billion infrastructure grant program. An additional $50 billion would fund the overall STEM research and learning by investing in modern research equipment, training and supporting faculty, lab technicians, and post-doctoral fellows.
It also promises undergraduate and graduate scholarships, fellowships and internships for students.
“We have to reverse this trend. With access to proper resources, HBCUs and other MSIs can be hubs of activity for STEM research and learning which will create a virtuous circle, attracting other leading faculty, students, and research funding opportunities,” Harris said in her plan.
Harris plan includes forgiving debt of up to $20,000 by establishing a student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities.
The plan also proposes to create a $12 billion capital grant and technical support program through the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency that will help minority small business owners start businesses.
“With proper resources, we can ensure that Black entrepreneurs have a real shot at starting small businesses and other ventures,” Harris added.
Earlier, the other Democratic presidential candidates have also pledged their support for HBCUs and MSIs. Julián Castro had proposed an investment of $3 billion per year to provide financial support and increase access for low-income students at HBCUs, while Pete Buttigieg promised a $25 billion investment which will support, test, and scale promising practices to improve college completion at HBCUs.