Emergency Preparedness, Facility Security, Policies and Training

U.S. Dept. of Education Offers Grants to HBCUs Impacted by Bomb Threats

Following the recent spate of bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has announced affected HBCUs are eligible to apply for grant funds under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program.

Howard University in Washington, D.C., reportedly received at least four bomb threats by mid-February.

Project SERV provides short-term immediate funding for local educational agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) that have experienced a violent or traumatic incident to assist in restoring a safe environment conducive to learning. Funding for Project SERV is limited, and awards typically range from $50,000 to $150,000 per school.

“The recent bomb threats experienced by HBCUs have shaken students and fractured their sense of safety and belonging, which are critical to their academic success and well-being,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. “Today’s announcement will improve access to Project SERV grants for HBCUs as these institutions work to address students’ mental health needs, shore up campus security, and restore learning environments so that they can get back to doing what they do best—educating the next generation of great leaders.”

In late February, the FBI issued a statement that it was continuing to “aggressively investigate” the nationwide bomb threats targeting HBCUs, houses of worship, and other faith-based and academic institutions. According to the FBI, almost 60 institutions across the country were targeted from Jan. 4 to Feb. 16, particularly concentrated in Black History Month. The bomb threats have been made in phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, and anonymous online posts. Howard University, a prominent HBCU in Washington, D.C., alone, had reportedly received at least four bomb threats by mid-February.

The Biden-Harris administration said it is taking a whole-of-government approach to address these repeated threats to HBCU campuses. Following the first reports of the threats, Cardona and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas hosted a briefing with more than 40 presidents of HBCUs. DHS also recently listed threats against HBCUs as a main concern in the agency’s National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin.

In addition to offering Project SERVE funding, the DOE will provide HBCUs with a compendium of the resources that are available across the federal government. The DOE urges HBCUs that experienced a recent bomb threat to seek more information about Project SERV by emailing project.serv@ed.gov.