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Momentum is building among some of the nation’s largest corporations to support historically Black colleges and universities.

Yesterday, nine companies joined more than 60 others that have taken the HBCU Partnership Challenge.

Challenge participants pledge to create strategic partnerships with the nation’s HBCUs. Some provide scholarship; others partner to provide career training, technology or other services.

Why it matters: Despite their financial struggles, HBCUs continue to produce an outsized number of Black college graduates, including:

• 27 percent of Black STEM graduates;
• 40 percent of Black engineers;
• 50 percent of Black lawyers;
• 50 percent of Black public-school teachers, and
• 80 percent of Black judges.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who launched the partnership challenge in 2017 and co-chairs the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, said the additional support for HBCUs comes at a “critical time.”

The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has put a disproportionate strain on HBCUs and the families of students who attend them.

At a virtual luncheon yesterday for challenge partners, Adam’s office announced the additions of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Arrival, BASF, Covanta, The CW Network, Hilton, NetApp and Walgreens.

“I have seen first-hand how private partnerships with HBCUs can be impactful,” Adams, a 1969 graduate of North Carolina A&T University, said in a statement. “This support is a vital part of further bolstering our HBCUs and bringing their needs to the forefront of Congressional priorities.”

A pledge in action: Since 2009, Home Depot has given more than $4.1 million to HBCUs to fund campus improvements. This year, the company has pledged $1 million in grants across 30 schools.

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