Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)

In Congress, Congresswoman Alma Adams is known as the “Godmother of HBCUs.” After joining the US House of Representatives in 2014. Since the founding of the caucus, Rep. Adams has proposed landmark HBCU legislation, and passed many of those bills into law.

In addition to its legislative work, the HBCU Caucus leads events like HBCU STEAM Day and the HBCU Braintrustand manages the HBCU Caucus Partnership Challenge program, which is composed of over 80 corporate partners committed to creating a pipeline from HBCUs to good jobs the corporate world.

Rep. Adams’ current priority is the IGNITE HBCU and MSI Excellence Act, which has over 180 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and Senate and is endorsed by ## companies.

HBCU Accomplishments

  • Introduced the bipartisan, bicameral IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act – the most significant investment in HBCU’s infrastructure in generations.
  • Introduced a resolution with Leader Schumer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Pressley calling on the President to forgive $50,000 in student loan debt for every American.

In Her Own Words

Congresswoman Adams has dedicated her life to promoting equitable opportunities for all, expanding and elevating the arts and artists, and promoting quality education for students, children and families. Her commitment to education, especially higher education, is unwavering and led her to become the founder of the first-ever Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, which advocates on behalf of all HBCUs, including Charlotte’s own Johnson C. Smith University. Congresswoman Adams has been an advocate in support of JCSU’s DACA students, and students who have aged out of Foster Care. Under Congresswoman Adams’ leadership, the Caucus has secured $6.5 million in additional federal funding for HBCUs, and the Caucus has created greater pathways of Opportunity for HBCU students and their alumni.

“Even though we didn’t have much money my mom was determined that I was going to college. I was never able to figure that one out since I knew we didn’t have money; but my mother was a strong-willed woman of faith who always told me up until her death at age 90 “Alma I don’t care what it looks like, I believe God”

You see she wanted for her kids what she wasn’t able to get— a good education and she believed that as the old Negro spiritual described:

“The Lord would make a way somehow”

She never finished high school, never went to an HBCU or any CU for that matter, but nevertheless she was a smart woman and she surely knew how important education was and what it would mean for my life. Clearly it has been my way.

My mother was a strong, independent woman who taught me to be that way too. She said what she meant and meant what she said.

In 1964 I graduated from West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey and even though I was not fully prepared to do college work (had to take two remedial courses) North Carolina A&T made a committed investment in me. The at university (at that time A&T College) took a poor black girl from the ghetto of Newark, New Jersey, molded and shaped me into what they knew I could become.

Working full and part-time much of the time while going to school and with the help of family members and extended family, I was able to complete my undergraduate degree at NCA&T and was able to go on to get my Ph.D. from THE Ohio State University–but only because of THE North Carolina A&T –an HBCU.

So you can see that my interest and advocacy for HBCU’s is underpinned by my personal experience as an HBCU student and 40 years as an HBCU faculty member at Bennett College.”

About the HBCU Caucus

The Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus (Caucus) was founded by Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12) on April 28, 2015. The Caucus is co-chaired by Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC), Congressman French Hill (R-AR), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). The Caucus works to promote and protect the interests of HBCUs by creating a national dialogue, educating Members of Congress and their staffs about the issues impacting HBCUs, drafting meaningful bipartisan legislation to address the needs of HBCUs, and supporting students and graduates of HBCUs by increasing access and career opportunities. The Caucus is bipartisan and bicameral, with over 100 members.

There are over 100 HBCUs that educate and employ many of our constituents. They provide vital opportunity for students that may not have otherwise pursued higher education. Despite their significant contributions, many HBCUs face serious challenges. The caucus convenes to discuss the challenges impacting HBCUs and create meaningful policies and legislation to address them.

HBCU Partnership Challenge

In September 2017, Congresswoman Adams announced the HBCU Partnership Challenge. The challenge was created because strengthening public-private investments in HBCUs is necessary to ensure their future sustainability, increase career prospects for their students, and advance diversity and inclusion within all sectors of employment. Learn more about the challenge here.

The challenge is a public pledge. It is an announcement that your corporation or organization is at the table and committed to create strategic partnerships with our nation’s HBCUs. It is an acknowledgment that HBCUs, which produce top minority talent, are a part of your diversity and inclusion efforts. For more information on the Caucus or the Challenge, please contact John.Christie@mail.house.gov.


The Bipartisan HBCU Caucus Internship Program was established to provide HBCU students with a unique opportunity to gain valuable hands on experience and learn about the functions of a Congressional office from the perspectives of both a Democrat and Republican member of Congress. Each intern will participate in an eight-week internship with equal time split between one Republican office and one Democratic office. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with senior congressional staffers, key policy advocates, and members of Congress. This unique opportunity will allow students to be exposed to a broad range of policy issues and examine how those issues are addressed from varying perspectives. Students will also carry out traditional internal duties, including, but not limited to, providing administrative support, processing mail, drafting constituent correspondence, and supporting legislative and communications staff.


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