Biden announces new scholarship initiative for HBCUs

Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday announced a new program to improve the graduation rate at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which will be unveiled at the University of South Carolina later this month, and honored HBCU Congressman James Clyburn.

The new Biden Initiative on HBCUs will focus on scholarship opportunities, job-training programs, and support for community-based HBCUs, which Biden has said he believes are able to better address the challenges of American workers and stand out in a post-civil rights landscape, The Washington Post reported.

“I want to applaud Congressman Clyburn for his record of commitment to the success of HBCUs,” Biden said at the home of South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.). “For over 40 years, Congressman Clyburn has worked tirelessly to advance our nation’s African-American young people and to ensure that we maintain and grow our commitment to the success of HBCUs.”

Founded by General Omar Bradley in 1836, South Carolina’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (TU) was once the largest of the 19 historically black colleges and universities on the list of White House higher education initiatives to continue after President Obama took office in 2009.

Despite the dropout rate on HBCUs that increased from 20 percent under Obama to 32 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, Biden said in his visit to Columbia that he thinks there is hope for improved graduation rates.

“I think it’s going to happen,” Biden said, according to the Post. “We know the cause, we know how to reach the people who are doing this. The schools have worked harder and we’re starting to do this. I think we are going to do it.”

Clyburn called Biden’s trip to Columbia, “the best endorsement we’ve ever had in South Carolina.”

“We think we’re good at what we do,” he said. “And we ought to keep doing it for many, many years to come.”

Biden’s announcement that he would support the Biden Initiative on HBCUs came in the same week that the White House unveiled new initiatives aimed at improving the rate of African-American students who are enrolled in schools in the U.S. and finishing high school.

Biden also praised South Carolina Rep. Clyburn, the second-longest serving member of the U.S. House, and recently tweeted, “Longest serving member of the House has always fought for improvements for HBCUs. In Congress, he’s voted for the Biden Initiative for HBCUs.”

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