WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed an executive order strengthening the long-standing White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities.

Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession most acutely because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. He’s calling for increased funding for historically black colleges in his proposed budget.

Obama says historically black colleges and universities still play a vital role and their success is crucial to a better future for all Americans. He’ll speak at the commencement ceremony for one of these institutions, Hampton University in Virginia, this spring.

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