Department of Education announces grants for bomb-threatened HBCUs

The Department of Education on Thursday is announcing grants for two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have received bomb threats this year.

The Department will award $420,000 in Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) funds to Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., and $80,000 to Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, N.C.

“As Secretary of Education, I want to make it abundantly clear that the Biden-Harris administration will not tolerate bomb threats or any efforts to terrorize students of color and everyone who lives, works, and studies at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

“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,” Cardona added. 

The grant money is targeted for the universities to support student trauma recovery programs, adding security officers, and expanding their mental health support.

In a press release, the Department of Education said it will announce more Project SERV grants following the Tougaloo and Fayetteville grants, and a $133,000 grant to Southern Law University Law Center last month.

According to the Department of Education, more than 50 HBCUs – out of 101 total – have received racially motivated bomb threats this year.

The Biden administration has launched criminal probes into the threats, but no arrests have been made.

In March, lawmakers expressed frustration over the lack of progress in investigations, at a time when a third of HBCUs had been targeted.

Last month, Howard University in Washington, D.C. received two threats within five days, shortly after students returned to class for the fall semester.

Cardona and Vice President Harris in March first announced the Project SERV grants would be made available to affected HBCUs, and the Department of Education released a “Bomb Threat Resource Guide” for the schools.

“We will continue to work with our partners across the administration—using a whole-of-government approach—to make sure HBCU leaders have access to all available federal resources to respond to threats of violence, shore up campus security, expand their infrastructure and capacity, and provide students with the safe and nurturing learning environments that HBCUs are known for,” Cardona said.