Education — 18 April 2013
American Baptist College Designated as HBCU

American Baptist College has become Nashville’s fourth HBCU.

The school joins Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State and over 100 more colleges and universities across the nation that are classified as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

ABC was recently notified by the United States Department of Education that their request was approved after nine months of working through the application process.

The official HBCU designation began in 1965 when the Higher Education Act was enacted. The institution must have been established prior to 1964, must be accredited and must have a primary mission to educate African Americans.

“Now we are on the map because of our status. Now they know we are here and we are financially able to help those that did know we were here but couldn’t come,” said Sarah Brooks, a 1987 graduate of ABC.

The HBCU status is more than just a ranking, according to Regina Prude, director of Proposal and Grant Research Development at ABC. She says the listing now opens doors for ABC to have access to a larger pool of financial aid from federal and philanthropic entities, for students and funding for school-related endeavors. Already, the new designation is reeling in money for the Christian-centered college. Simply because of ABC’s new status, they will receive an annual grant that will be a minimum of $250,000 each year.

The grant will be administered to ABC over a five-year period of time which can potentially be renewed at the end of the term. This grant comes out of a larger bucket of $227.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education that was released in September of last year and designated for HBCUs.

The goal of the grant program is to assist the HBCUs in strengthening their academic resources, financial management systems, endowment-building capacity and physical plants. Maintaining the campus buildings is of particular interest to the college because the structures were recently recognized nationally and on the state level as a historic site.
Since its inception, 97 schools have received the grant. Fisk was awarded $1,356,300 from the program while TSU received $4,851,718.

“HBCUs have made enduring, even staggering contributions to American life despite the steep financial challenges many have faced. The grants will help these important institutions continue to provide their students with the quality education they need to compete in the global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

That’s not the only money that will be coming in. Belmont University recently announced its donation of $100,000 to ABC’s endowment to be used for student scholarships.

“This is unprecedented. It speaks to the vision of President Fisher at Belmont as to what an investment in education means here in the Athens of The South and to model the type of institutional scholarship and make sure institutions like ABC have the support of community education and make sure our mission flourishes,” said ABC President Forrest Harris.

Currently, 200 students are enrolled at ABC. Harris said they plan to launch an aggressive recruitment plan that will attract 100 new students each year to take advantage of the scholarship program. Tuition at ABC is currently a little more than $4,000 a semester.

It’s a college worth investing your money in, according to 2012 graduate Daryll Ballard. He says the students walk away with more than just a degree.

“I will always cherish ABC. There, I was able to build myself into the budding scholar that I am today. I am very proud of her. She is like my mother. I am thrilled about (the HBCU status). I always considered her an HBCU. How can you not be an HBCU and be responsible for changing the world? ABC was, and still is, a training ground for the non-violent resistance strategy of the Civil Rights Movement. James Bevel, John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette, Julius Scruggs. These are some of ABC’s finest. To me, ABC has been an HBCU since its inception,” said Ballard.

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