Historically Black colleges and universities are today receiving enormous amounts of resources — from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott’s transformative multimillion-dollar donations to billions of federal dollars flowing to HBCUs through COVID-19 relief funding. Though these investments in HBCUs are long overdue, they are still welcome developments that shine a well-deserved light on these institutions.

HBCUs have a capacity for resilience and innovation that has gone unappreciated for far too long. They’re places where Black students thrive, often against long odds and a chronic shortage of resources. They make up only 3% of all colleges and universities in the United States, yet they produce 20% of our nation’s Black college graduates, a quarter of this country’s Black STEM graduates, half of all Black attorneys and 80% of Black judges. And as society and higher education have begun the long process of broadly acknowledging and dismantling systemic racism and injustice, they have sought support from HBCUs.

Black colleges and universities, which have too often been underfunded at a federal level and overlooked by the general public, are at long last beginning to get their dues. It’s time to share their value and uniqueness with the wider world. We need to move beyond the traditional — and in many ways tiresome — deficit-based understanding of HBCUs and toward an asset-based view of their innate strengths and potential.

In fall 2021, Complete College America launched the HBCU Digital Learning Infrastructure Initiative alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with historically Black institutions to co-design a long-term strategy for building a foundation for successful digital learning. This initiative will invest in new digital technologies and practices that will play key roles in the future of the college experience — and provide a comprehensive view of how HBCUs are maintaining their digital cultures online. The rapid digitization of everything on campus, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has laid bare the stark structural inequities in digital learning infrastructure at HBCUs that threaten the progress of student success initiatives.

Read the full article about investing in technology at HBCUs by Yolanda Watson Spiva and Dhanfu E. Elston at Higher Education Dive.