Giving Compass' Take:

• Recent research indicates that both Historically Black Colleges and Universities and majority-Black schools boost social mobility for Black students.

• What examples and ideas can other institutions replicate to help Black college students thrive on campuses all over the country?

• Learn more about how colleges can improve students' social mobility.

One of the few moments of bipartisan acclaim during President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address was when he highlighted additional financial support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Federal funding for HBCUs has increased by more than $100 million over the last two years, a 17% increase. Most of the candidates running in the Democratic Primary have pledged significant new investments in HBCUs, often in addition to broader policies on college affordability.

HBCUs occupy a small but important place in American higher education serving just 0.1 percent of the overall student population, but accounting for 20 percent of black students who complete bachelor’s degrees and 27 percent of African-American students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields, for example. Two out of five African American members of Congress attended an HBCU.

HBCUs also play an outsized role as incubators of black opportunity. As we have shown in a previous post, “The contribution of historically black colleges and universities to upward mobility”, drawing on data from Opportunity Insights, HBCUs perform well as engines of upward mobility. This is in large part because they draw in many students from lower-income backgrounds.

In this paper we consider a broader group of four-year colleges, those where Black students make up more than half of the student population. We compare these Majority-Black Colleges (MBCs) to Majority-White Colleges (MWCs) in terms of long-term student outcomes. We then consider possible explanations for differences that exist.

Majority-Black Colleges are leaders in terms of access; and also seem to be performing similarly to MWCs in terms of success on our measure. The question is: why? Here we discuss 4 potential explanations for why these majority Black schools may be advancing the mobility of their students.

Read the full article about boosting social mobility for Black students by Tiffany Ford and Richard V. Reeves at Brookings.