As part of a new initiative to preserve HBCU campuses, eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country will receive over $650,000 in Cultural Heritage Stewardship grants.

The HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative seeks to “empower HBCUs with the resources to protect, preserve, and leverage their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes.”

The eight recipients announced as part of this initiative are Benedict College in South Carolina, Spelman College in Atlanta, Lane College in Tennessee, Philander Smith College in Arkansas, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Jackson State University in Mississippi, Stillman College in Alabama, and Tuskegee University in Alabama.

The initiative has been announced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and seeks to preserve the historic buildings and landscapes on HBCU campuses.

Since listing HBCUs as among America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the National Trust has worked to raise awareness of their significance and the heightened risk they face of demolition, inadequate maintenance, and insufficient funding.

Support for HCBUs

The National Trust Initiative funding is part of a larger initiative by the organization, and is part of a $25 million campaign launched in 2017 to preserve Black culture.

During COVID, colleges have seen a decrease in enrollment, massive layoffs, and a steep decline in revenue. This includes HBCUs that have long been overlooked and vastly underfunded. The funding, therefore, comes at a time when educational institutions, threatened by financial crises, are struggling to survive and scrambling for financial assistance.

“Often on our campuses, we fix what’s broken in that moment,” President and CEO of Benedict College Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis said. “If a window breaks, we fix the window. If a pipe breaks, we fix the pipe. This grant will help us start with the leaky windows but also fully assess the building and create a strategic plan for preservation long term.”

The $650,000 funding follows President Joe Biden’s promise to support HBCUs during his election campaign. Biden pledged $20 billion to preserve HBCUs and other colleges serving minority students. This was further fueled by Kamala Harris’ historic win as the first Black person, and first HBCU female graduate to become the country’s vice president — an event that has been instrumental in shifting focus towards the country’s 105 HBCUs.