Following the recent bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation, the U.S. Department of Education announced that (HBCUs) that have recently experienced disruption to the campus learning environment, are eligible to apply for grant funds under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program.

According to the FBI, more than one-third of HBCUs were targeted with violent bomb threats. Texas Southern University (TSU) and Prairie View A&M were among them. TSU is also eligible to receive federal funding. 

Mary Young, chief of police at Texas Southern University and former Houston Police Department officer will be the liaison working with other chiefs at HBCUs across the country. Young said the intent is to make sure HBCUs have an active voice in the conversation when it comes to receiving resources in a timely manner which includes funding just like any other university or college.  

“Texas is located in the heart and soul of Houston and the campus is surrounded by the community and we need to find out what’s going on in the environment that will make our students feel unsafe,” Young said. “I hope the funding would help toward better fencing, better lighting for our campus, better structure for its buildings, recognizable police department buildings. We have an emergency operations center but we need to have it operated to have contact with our city, state, and national officials. Do we need to have our trees cut? Are our street signs visible or security officers? This funding is tremendous and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

In an official announcement, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the goal for Project SERV grants will help “address students’ mental health needs, shore up campus security, and restore learning environments” to get students back on track. The Department will provide HBCUs with a bomb threat resource guide to help with long-term improvements to emergency management planning and response. 

Project SERV provides short-term immediate funding for local educational agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) that have experienced a violent or traumatic incident to assist in restoring a safe environment conducive to learning. Funding for Project SERV is limited, and awards typically range from $50,000 to $150,000 per school.

The Defender reached out to Prairie View A&M on updates regarding their application for funding. No responses as of yet. 

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...