November 29, 2023

With state support, Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) could become even stronger centers of education and economic opportunity, according to a recent report.Senator Sonya HalpernSenator Sonya Halpern

The report — from the Georgia Senate Study Committee on Excellence, Innovation and Technology at HBCUs — included recommendations for lawmakers to help HBCUs manage workforce diversity, innovation and community and economic development.

One of the recommendations was for a bipartisan HBCU committee made up of legislators and permanent subcommittees on HBCUs in both chambers’ higher professional schools committees to focus on the schools. Another was to pass legislation to start HBCU Innovation & Economic Prosperity Planning Districts, which could help create housing and modernize technology at HBCUs.

“This is an opportunity for Georgia to become a national leader in how states fully support HBCUs and maximize their economic and social impact on their graduates and surrounding communities,” said state Sen. Sonya Halpern, chair of the study committee.

The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) helped by presenting recommendations at the committee’s initial hearing last August.

“HBCUs play a vital role in Georgia and many Southern states as centers of learning, community and opportunity,” said Raymond Pierce, SEF president and CEO. “These recommendations set out an ambitious new agenda for how the state of Georgia can help HBCUs thrive even more, benefiting students and communities across the state and setting an example for many other states to follow.

Georgia HBCUs enroll more than 20,000 black undergraduates annually and award 23% of bachelor’s degrees to black students. These HBCUs have an estimated economic impact of $1.3 billion annually in Georgia.

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