In October 2022, the White House announced various funding opportunities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In the summer of 2022, the University of Delaware and Morgan State University received $4.6 million to create a railroad engineering program, which will help graduates become leaders in rail engineering.
Funding for this program was provided through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant (CRISI), which received $5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The BIL offers over 40 competitive funding programs, representing over $15 billion, that HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions can apply for directly.
Additionally, agencies such as the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Transportation encourage applicants to seek funding from other sources, like states or private companies, to partner with HBCUs for workforce development, equity assessments, and community capacity building or engagement.
The Department of Energy has committed $102 million in funding and support for HBCUs and MSIs through its Equity Action Plan. Community benefits plans must be submitted with each funding application, which should demonstrate specific actions like partnering with MSIs to meet workforce development goals and community engagement requirements.
These plans are just a few examples of how partnerships with HBCUs are being used to rebuild the country and augment the $2.7 billion provided directly to HBCUs under the American Rescue Plan.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations plans to release a $105 million funding opportunity announcement later this fall through its Energy Storage Pilot Grant Program. HBCUs are encouraged to apply as lead applicants for this funding, which requires submitting plans to build a demonstration project that proves the commercial viability of new energy storage technology.
The Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Program (IAC) is also using Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to increase HBCU participation within the IAC network at the community college and trade school level. IAC assessments are free evaluations of small and medium-sized manufacturers conducted by engineering faculty and students from participating universities, which identify energy-saving or productivity opportunities and train the next generation of engineers.
The Thriving Communities Initiative provides technical assistance and capacity building to improve communities through transportation improvements. DOT is partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide complementary technical services for coordinating housing and transportation planning. DOT will use cooperative agreements with nonprofits or other technical assistance providers to build planning capacity by incorporating equity-related practices.
To support the closure of the digital divide and promote equity, states can work with HBCUs as administering, planning, or community engagement partners. Build.gov has over 375 programs available under the law.