The White House said Wednesday it will make grant funding available to historically Black colleges and universities that have received bomb threats this year so they can upgrade security systems and provide mental health services on campus.
Vice President Kamala Harris will highlight the grants, which can range from $50,000 to $150,000 per school, during a White House event with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
The funds are from the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program at the Department of Education, which offers short-term, immediate funding to schools that experience violence or a traumatic event.
Administration officials said they heard firsthand about the need for security upgrades and services to grapple with students’ apprehension during site visits following the bomb threats.
The Biden administration said one-third of the nation’s HBCUs have received bomb threats over the past three months, disrupting campus learning even as universities try to resume activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While, thankfully, no explosive devices were found on any of these campuses, significant and lasting damage has been done by threatening the safety and security of the students, faculty, and staff at these institutions,” a White House fact sheet reads. “As a result of these threats, learning has been disrupted, critical resources have been diverted to emergency response, and there has been an increased burden on already overwhelmed campus mental health systems.”
The administration said the attacks should be viewed through a historical lens. HBCUs were set up to offer a welcoming environment to students who were rejected by other institutions due to racial discrimination.
“Threats to the education and well-being of Black Americans and HBCUs are an unfortunate part of American history,” the fact sheet reads. “The bomb threats that we witnessed in January, each week in February — Black History Month, and this month are reminiscent of the attempts during the Civil Rights Era to intimidate and provoke fear in Black Americans. The Biden-Harris administration is taking a whole-of-government approach in responding to these threats and ensuring the safety and well-being of students, staff, and faculty.”