In response to the multiple bomb threats made against Historically Black Colleges and Universities this year, the White House has announced a new federal program to protect students, faculty and staff; The Grio reports.
According to the outlet, Vice President Kamala Harris and other White House officials announced “Project Serve Grants” on Wednesday (March 16), which will provide up to $150,000 for schools to hire mental health staff, increase campus security measures and launch specialized safety training.
“Our administration is sending a very clear message: this intimidation will not stand and we will not be intimidated,” Vice President Harris said. “We will do everything in our power to protect all our communities from violence and from hate. We are all in this together and we must stand together.”
“Every American should be able to learn, work, worship and gather without fear,” she added. “It is our duty to do everything we can to protect all our communities from harm against any one of our communities. This is a harm against all of us.”
According to The Grio, the short-term federal grants will be made available for HBCUs that have “received threats that significantly disrupt the learning environment.” The Department of Education will then work with the impacted schools to determine their needs.
“I’m very pleased to see this connective tissue between the Justice Department, the FBI [and] Homeland Security all working together and they have been doing this since day one,” Dr. David Kwabena Wilson, president of Morgan State University, which received several threats, said. “They have reached out to us, have provided us with resources in terms of programmatic resources that we could draw upon to help us respond in a timely fashion to what we were seeing.”
“The White House is now saying that institutions like Morgan and other HBCU schools that have been threatened in this space where we have had to draw upon our own operating resources – parsimonious as they are – to enable us to hire more counselors to hire more security guards and to create, if you will, another kind of protective layer on our campus that we can now apply to get some federal support to enable us to do that,” he added.
In addition to the grants program, Attorney General Merrick Garland said 31 FBI field offices are currently investigating the bomb threats, which began in January and increased in February, which is Black History Month.