Credit: Illustration by Chris Allen, BVN

Last Updated on March 30, 2022 by BVN

BVN Staff |

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – more than one-third of which have recently received bomb threats against their campuses – are now eligible for grant funding under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program from the Department of Education.

On March 16, the White House announced the funding program designed  to enhance campus security and provide mental health resources. 

In a statement, Vice-President Kamala Harris stressed how the funding will make clear that every American should be able to learn, work, worship, and gather without fear, reiterating how the nation has seen significant spikes in incidences of violence and hate against Jewish communities, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, and LGBTQ+ communities – which is why the Administration is working aggressively to combat hate and ensure public safety.

This announcement builds on the work Harris and the president have done since taking office, to combat hate and increase public safety. In November 2021, Vice President Harris addressed the Anti-Defamation League’s Never is Now conference where she said, “We must fight antisemitism and hate of all kinds. And call it out wherever it exists. We know: A harm against one of us is a harm against all.”

This followed statements in March 2021, where she spoke in Atlanta after eight people were murdered in the city, six of them women of Asian descent where  Harris stressed, “Asian-Americans have been attacked and scapegoated…For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating — scapegoating Asian-Americans.  People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. […] The President and I will not be silent.  We will not stand by.  We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes, and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs.”

Project SERV

Project SERV provides short-term, immediate funding for local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that have experienced a violent or traumatic incident to assist in restoring a safe environment conducive to learning.The grant can help with short-term immediate funding needs, such as targeted mental health resources or enhanced security to restore the learning environment on their campuses. Awards typically range from $50,000 to $150,000 per school.

In the last two months, more than one-third of our country’s HBCUs have received bomb threats. Significant and lasting damage has been done by threatening the safety and security of the students, faculty, and staff of these institutions. 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. 

HBCUs were founded to educate Black people in an America that refused to accept them as full human beings and prevented them – because of racial discrimination – from attending other colleges. Threats to the education and well-being of Black Americans and HBCUs are an unfortunate part of American history. 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.