TIAA Supports Bipartisan IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act

Originally published at TIAA ranked No. 9 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


In these challenging times, TIAA remains steadfastly committed to supporting historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in fulfilling their inspiring missions. Writing on behalf of TIAA, president and CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett recently sent Congressional leaders a letter in support of the bipartisan Institutional Grants for New Infrastructure, Technology and Education for HBCU Excellence Act (“IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act ”). In the letter, Brown Duckett encourages Congressional leadership to include the proposal in any infrastructure legislation that will be considered in the coming months.

Co-sponsored by Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and French Hill (R-AR), and Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the legislation aims to allow HBCUs to renovate, repair, modernize, or construct new campus facilities; leverage private partnerships; preserve historical buildings; procure research equipment; install high-speed broadband internet; and more.

“We applaud Representatives Adams and Hill, and Senators Coons and Scott for their bipartisan work on this bill,” said Brown Duckett. “Further, we appreciate their leadership as co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and the HBCU Challenge, of which TIAA is a proud partner. We are hopeful the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act will be enacted in the near future and again encourage you to include it as a key initiative in the ongoing infrastructure discussions.”

In the letter, Brown Duckett notes that TIAA’s long history of collaboration with HBCUs has led to a firm understanding of the role they play in ensuring that students of color, as well as low-income and first-generation college students, can attain a degree from a four-year college or university. HBCUs continue to develop the diverse leaders of tomorrow:

  • 25% of Black graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs
  • More than 80% of all Black Americans with degrees in medicine and dentistry graduated from and HBCU
  • 50% of Black faculty at traditionally white research universities received their degrees from an HBCU

Despite the successes they’ve had in preparing students of color to meet the workforce demands of the future, HBCUs consistently struggle to acquire adequate public and private funding. HBCUs need support to ensure they can undertake capital projects that will allow them to continue to develop the diverse leaders of tomorrow, equipped with the skills needed to meet the workforce demands of the future. TIAA supports the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act because it takes steps to provide these important institutions with the resources and investment necessary to thrive in the years ahead by utilizing important public and private investment opportunities.

As the leading provider of retirement services for those in the non-profit sector, including colleges and universities across the country, TIAA serves over 70% of all HBCUs. Brown Duckett notes TIAA’s commitment to these institutions can be traced back to its founding in 1918 by Andrew Carnegie, who served as a significant benefactor of these institutions. TIAA continues this commitment today through programs like the annual HBCU Early Career Insights Program, which allows HBCU students to interact with TIAA executives, talk to HBCU alums, attend skill-building workshops and learn about TIAA’s summer internship opportunities.

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