Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday announced that historically Black colleges and universities can apply for grants under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence program, or Project SERV, after these institutions received dozens of bomb threats in the last three months.
The federal program provides immediate short-term funding—typically grants of $50,000 to $150,000—to educational institutions that have experienced violent or traumatic incidents disruptive to learning. Department staff will work with HBCUs to determine if Project SERV funding can address needs related to the bomb threats, such as improvements to campus security or targeted mental health counseling, according to the announcement.
“The recent bomb threats experienced by HBCUs have shaken students and fractured their sense of safety and belonging, which are critical to their academic success and wellbeing,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. “We, at the Department of Education, recognize how these threats evoke a painful history of violence against Black Americans in this country that is especially traumatizing to HBCU students, faculty, and staff.”
Some HBCU leaders expressed appreciation for the funding opportunity but said the government’s priority should be investigating the threats and prosecuting the perpetrators.
“The threats to HBCUs are nothing short of domestic terrorism perpetrated to disrupt, traumatize and instill fear,” Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said in a press release. “The threats must be investigated and the perpetrators must be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at UNCF, said funding is always “needed and well-deserved” at HBCUs, but “those who perpetrate acts of terror on HBCU campuses should be brought to justice.”
“What HBCUs are looking for is the restoration of the safe and nurturing environment we have provided for over 150 years to the most unique student mix in higher education,” he said in the release.