Brown Introduces Legislation to Expand Defense Research Opportunities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

In 2018, HBCUs Received Less Than Half a Percent of Department of Defense’s $4.6 Billion Research Investment; Ohio’s Wilberforce and Central State Would Be Eligible for Funding

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to discuss his Building Equitable Access to Contribute to Our National Security Act of 2021 or BEACON Act, which would expand Department of Defense (DoD) research funding opportunities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Institutions (MIs), including Central State University and Wilberforce University in Ohio. The Department of Defense funds basic research at institutes of higher education, and Brown’s legislation would ensure HBCU students get the resources and research opportunities they need to succeed in STEM and other related careers.

“There’s a large, mostly untapped pool of talented students, researchers, and engineers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including here in Ohio,” said Brown. “And we need to ensure that HBCU students get the research opportunities they need to gain experience and succeed in STEM careers. Our national security and our economic security depend on us recognizing and nurturing American talent – including Black talent.”

In 2018, the Department of Defense invested more than $4.6 billion in science and engineering funding into the country’s colleges and universities. But less than half a percent of those funds – only about $21 million – was awarded to HBCUs. Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) introduced the House version of the bill earlier this year.

“Central State University deeply appreciates Senator Brown for his legislative initiative with the BEACON Act language. The federal government, and particularly the Department of Defense, can offer significant growth to HBCUs’ research capabilities,” said Dr. Jack Thomas, President of Central State University. “This languages gives the directives necessary to allocate the resources to Central State University’s programs and will enhance our research capacities to become a great partner with DOD in future opportunities.”

The BEACON Act would institute a three-phased approach:

  1. Require the Department of Defense to establish a 10-year plan to elevate a consortium of HBCUs to the combined research capacity of a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC).
  2. Establish a grant program to build HBCU defense research capacity, including establishing legal entities to support the consortium or developing capacity to capture Defense contracts.
  3. Require Federally Funded Research Development Centers and UARCs to subcontract 5 percent of their work to HBCUs.

Read the full text of the bill here.