Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) in 2014
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Alma S. Adams of the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina this week introduced the HBCU Innovation Fund Act, or H.R. 4857, HBCU Buzz reports.

The legislation would create the HBCU Innovation Fund, which would make $250 million in competitive grants available to historically black colleges and universities across the country and allow for the planning and implementation of programs that improve student achievement, increase recruitment, increase graduation rates, and increase enrollment and completion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees, reports the outlet.

The legislation would also help HBCUs redesign course offerings to improve student outcomes and reduce education costs, enhance the quality and number of teacher-preparation programs, expand the use of technology, and strengthen postgraduate employment outcomes for students.

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As has been reported in recent years, HBCUs and their students have been decimated by changes to federal loan programs (including Parent Plus loans), declining student enrollment in a “post-racial America,” low graduation rates and fundraising difficulties. Many recognize, though, that HBCUs are a haven for some black students and entree for many into higher education.

“HBCUs provide opportunities for many low-income, first generation and often minority students to get a quality education,” said Adams, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus and member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education.

“HBCUs give students the chance they deserve to succeed; however, they have been historically underfunded and lack many of the resources needed to address some of their most extreme challenges. The HBCU Innovation Fund Act is one way to help close some of the gaps that persist on HBCU campuses and within HBCU administrations.”

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Adams, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T University, is joined in co-sponsorship of the HBCU Innovation Fund Act by a bevy of African-American congress members, including Democrats Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Corrine Brown (Fla.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Donna F. Edwards (Md.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Stacey E. Plaskett (Virgin Islands), Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), Terri A. Sewell (Ala.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) and Chaka Fattah (Pa.). It is also co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.).

Read more at HBCU Buzz.