ASBMB Endorses the IGNITE HBCU, TCU and MSI Excellence Act

Oct. 13, 2022

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology supports the IGNITE HBCU, TCU and MSI Excellence Act, introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 13 by Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C. If passed, the bill will direct the secretary of education to create a grant program to provide long-term improvements to historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions.

These 700 institutions were established to educate students from historically marginalized backgrounds. They produce one-fifth of the nation's STEM bachelor's degree holders. Yet they continue to be chronically underfunded.

In 2019, the House committee on education and labor released a report highlighting systemic underfunding of HBCUs, TCU and other MSIs and how it affects students. In a press release about the report, the committee wrote: “Despite the high-quality collegiate experience, these institutions receive less state funding and lack alternate funding sources, like endowments and tuition increases, to offset funding cuts. In fact, our nation’s institutions spend $5 billion more each year on white students than students of color.”

Furthermore, a 2018 study on the HBCU Capital Financing Program found that 46% of their building space, on average, needs repair or replacement and identified significant project needs in the areas of deferred maintenance, facilities modernization, and preservation of historic buildings.

The IGNITE Act would provide grant funding for construction and renovations to campus facilities, such as laboratories and research facilities, as well as updates to other vital infrastructure, such as roads and broadband internet.

The ASBMB supports this legislation’s focus on expanding research capacity at MSIs because increased funding will support ASBMB members at those institutions and support students from historically marginalized backgrounds who are seeking to participate and pursue careers in scientific research.