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New Funding for Virginia HBCUs Soars

As part of his Thank You, Virginia Tour, Governor Ralph Northam visited the Norfolk State University Lyman Beecher Brooks Library rotunda on Thursday, Dec. 9, to announce newly proposed funding before an assembled crowd of higher education dignitaries, including President Javaune Adams-Gaston, the NSU Board of Visitors and Virginia State University President Makola M. Abdullah. 

Governor Northam is proposing $277 million in funding for operating costs and building construction at Virginia’s two public HBCUs. Norfolk State University will receive $164 million,and Virginia State University will receive $113 million. The total budget amount going to Virginia’s HBCUs is $297 million.

The budget will allocate an additional $20 million in 2023 and $20 million in 2024 to increase the affordability of Norfolk State and Virginia State University. More students will be able to access a high-quality education thanks to these state funds, titled the HBCU Opportunity Fund.

“Virginia's higher education system is parallel to none,” said Governor Northam. “HBCUs have long been underfunded, and we have worked tirelessly over the past four years to fix that. We are closing the funding gap and making college more accessible to all Virginians.”

“It is exhilarating to have the opportunity to do the things we’re setting out to do to educate our students and right some of the wrongs of our past,” said NSU President Javaune Adams-Gaston.

Virginia’s HBCUs have been systemically underfunded for years. In 2019, Governor Northam proposed and allocated nearly $300 million in new funding for Norfolk State and Virginia State and additional capital support and funding for programs to help first-generation students overcome barriers to graduation.

During Governor Northam’s administration, Virginia has made the largest-ever investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities—$328 million over three years. This includes $297 million for capital projects and nearly $32 million in operating support.

“I appreciate Governor Northam and his focus on how we can do better as a state,” Dr. Adams-Gaston said.

“HBCUs are a critical asset to Virginia’s higher education system and this funding will be game-changing for these institutions,” said Secretary of Education Frances Bradford. “Proper funding for these schools means better resources for students.”

“It is so important for the government to continue to fund HBCUs, specifically our state government,” said NSU Student Government President Jaylin Drewry.

Governor Northam said the new funding proposals were rooted in the state’s budget surplus, $2.6 billion for the previous year, and said Virginia’s pro-business stance during his administration was a crucial part of creating that surplus. 

Virginia has been the “Best state for business three years running,” he said. “We have built a strong Virginia that works for more Virginians than ever before.”

Governor Northam’s budget proposal will go before the General Assembly and Northam hopes incoming Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin will support the proposal. Youngkin did campaign on promises to increase HBCU funding throughout Virginia.

“He has a tremendous opportunity. No governor-elect has been turned over an economy as good of a shape as it is right now, and he has a responsibility to continue the priorities we’ve set. One of those is education and one of those is funding our HBCUs,” Northam said.

Norfolk State officials said the new funds would go toward new science and fine arts buildings and establishing a student wellness complex, among other wide-ranging goals.