U.S. Department of Education Awards Project SERV Grants to Tougaloo College and Fayetteville State University

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grants to two HBCUs following the recent spate of bomb threats. Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, were awarded over $420,000 and $80,000 in Project SERV grants respectively.

These universities will use the funds to support student trauma recovery related to these threats by hiring full-time equivalent Trauma Specialists/Counselors, increasing full time Security Officer coverage, and offering additional mental health supports. The Department awarded Southern Law University Law Center a $133,000 Project SERV grant last month and expects additional grants to be awarded in the coming weeks.

“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. 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,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “That is why earlier this year I announced that HBCUs impacted by these disturbing bomb threats would be eligible to apply for funds through our Project SERV program. 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.”

Tougaloo College and Fayetteville State University are among the more than 50 HBCUs and Historically Black Institutions across the country that have experienced racially motivated bomb threats this year. Project SERV provides short-term 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.

In March, Vice President Harris and Secretary Cardona announced that HBCUs impacted by bomb threats would be eligible for Project SERV grants. The Department has been and continues to work with additional HBCUs impacted to support them in the grant application process and is working to expedite applications to get funds to grantees as soon as possible.

The Department also provided HBCUs with a compendium of resources that are available across the federal government. These resources can support long-term improvements to campus mental health programs, campus safety and emergency management planning and response.

The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take a whole-of-government approach to ensure the safety and well-being of students, staff and faculty to address these repeated threats to HBCU campuses. To date, the Administration has delivered nearly $6 billion in cumulative investments to HBCUs, including:

  • $3.7 billion through the American Rescue Plan and other COVID relief;
  • $1.6 billion in capital finance debt relief; and
  • $500 million in grant funding to help HBCUs and other MSIs expand capacity.

Most recently, the Department partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana State University National Center for Biomedical Research and Training/Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education to deliver “Campus Emergency” trainings to over 60 HBCUs across the country.

Each customized training was held at an HBCU and was crafted for campus law enforcement and related public safety officials involved in planning for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies on their individual campuses. Campus law enforcement and public safety officials are encouraged to participate in the upcoming 2022 National HBCU Week Conference where the Department and its partners will provide technical assistance on Project SERV applications, and share best practices through workshops and networking opportunities.

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