Two HBCUs Awarded Federal Grants Following Bomb Threats
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- A flurry of bomb threats suspended learning at many HBCUs beginning in February.
- Two institutions were approved for Project SERV grants to address the traumas those threats inflicted on students.
- The federal government said it is expediting the process to award more grants to other HBCUs.
Two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) subjected to bomb threats this year are recieving federal grants to support their students.
The Department of Education (ED) announced Thursday that it awarded Tougaloo College in Mississippi and Fayetteville State University in North Carolina Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grants of $420,000 and $80,000, respectively.
Project SERV funds will pay for new, full-time trauma specialists and counselors, according to a statement from ED. HBCUs may also use the funds to increase full-time security officers on campus.
Bomb threats flooded HBCUs in January and February, with at least 57 HBCUs and Black churches receiving bomb threats between Jan. 4 and Feb. 16, according to the FBI. The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
ED revealed in mid-March that HBCUs would be eligible for Project SERV grants because of the threats. The grant program, which dates back to 2001, is designed to support both K-12 and higher education institutions in recovery from violent or traumatic events that disrupted the learning environment.
“The bomb threats made against HBCUs earlier this year not only strained institutions’ resources by prompting costly campus lockdowns, class cancellations, and law enforcement activities, but shattered students’ sense of safety and heightened anxiety throughout these campus communities,” ED Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a Thursday statement.
The grants awarded to Tougaloo College and Fayetteville State University are among the first of many ED expects to award to HBCUs in the coming weeks. The department said it is working to expedite the application process to get funds to other HBCUs “as soon as possible.”
In mid-August, Southern University Law Center (SULC) was the first HBCU to be granted Project SERV funds due to the bomb threats.
“This grant will allow SULC to address the mental health consequences related to bomb threats and trauma during these tumultuous times,” John Pierre, chancellor of SULC, said in a statement. “It is important that, as an HBCU, we safeguard the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff.”
The FBI’s Counterterrorism Division met with HBCU leaders and other advocacy groups on Sept. 9 to brief them on the ongoing investigation into the threats, according to a statement from the bureau. It did not, however, publicly share its progress on the investigation due to “sensitive aspects.”
The bureau did state that these were “racially motivated” threats.