Cory Booker’s fledgling campaign (he might not be on the December debate stage) has recently announced that if he becomes president of the United States, he will support giving HBCUs and other minority serving institutions up to $100 billion.
Booker’s HBCU plan doesn’t make him particularly unique – Buttigieg, Warren, and Sanders have all given similar proposals. Still, Booker has an interesting and specific angle. Booker’s HBCU proposal doesn’t just suggest that the government spend $100 billion dollars, but includes specifics showing that $40 billion of it has to go towards climate research. Another $30 billion would go towards furthering STEM initiatives and education and another $30 billion would go towards upgrading grounds and facilities at HBCUs.
“HBCUs make our country stronger and more reflective of the diversity that makes us so great,” Mr. Booker said in a statement announcing the proposal. “I am here today because of the power of these institutions to uplift and bring about opportunity to black Americans.”
A 2017 report comissioned by the United Negro College Fund found that HBCUs create around 134,090 jobs in their respective regions, approximately 43 percent of those jobs are on-campus and 57 percent are off-campus. The study also found that on-campus jobs feed off-campus ones. “For every job created on campus there are 1.3 off-campus jobs that exist because of spending related to the HBCU.”
It’s not all good though. Some have critiqued Bookers’ emphasis on STEM programming, and rightfully so. “There are maybe 10 to 20 HBCUs facing being shuttered that don’t have those fields,” Jerry Crawford II, a professor of journalism and a director of the multicultural scholars program at the University of Kansas, told the New York Times.
Senator Booker’s HBCU plan also acknowledges that many students at HBCUs rely heavily on access to Pell Grants, so Booker wants to double the maximum value for Pell from $6,200 to $12,400.
Booker has so far come off as one of the less threatening candidates in the 2020 race. He has not exactly been shaking his fist at anyone like Bernie Sanders or Eliabeth Warren, but also lacking the hawkish devotion to the status quo like say, Joe Biden.
It’s perhaps that middle of the road nature that has left his campaign poll numbers in such dire straits even though he has met the individual contribution minimum.
On the signing of the FUTURE Act to fund HBCUs, Booker tweeted:
@CoryBooker – “Happy to see the Senate pass the #FUTUREAct to provide critical funding for HBCUs. When I am president, we’re going to make a historic $100 billion investment into HBCUs and MSIs to restore justice and empower Black and Brown communities all across America.“