27 HBCUs awarded $20 million to address health disparities and outcomes

The gift is part of a 10-year commitment from a collaboration between The Thurgood Marshall Foundation and Novartis.

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More than two dozen Black colleges and universities have been selected to receive $20 million from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund-Novartis US Foundation HBCU Alliance. The resources will come in the form of faculty research grants and scholarships. Selected institutions include Tennessee State University, Hampton University, Alabama A&M University, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and Meharry Medical College.

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The faculty research grants are aimed to “change the Black/African-American lived experience and improve health outcomes for Black/African-Americans,” according to the program’s objective.

The Faculty Grant program is part of a broader, 10-year endeavor created by the educational nonprofit and pharmaceutical giant in 2021. Through a $20 million commitment to HBCUs and historically Black medical schools, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund-Novartis US Foundation HBCU Alliance “seeks to achieve a paradigm shift over time to address longstanding, endemic, and historically based disparities.”

Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Harry Williams hopes the collaboration will boost the number of African-Americans entering healthcare careers and lead to systemic change. “In the last two and a half years, some of the inequities have been put under a spotlight and you look at the COVID-19 situation,” Williams told ABC 24 in Memphis. Williams also noted that HBCUs remain at the vanguard of necessary change. “HBCUs have always been in a place where they have lifted up those that have been disenfranchised.”

In addition to the faculty research grants, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund-Novartis US Foundation HBCU Alliance will provide scholarships for students attending the selected institutions. In addition to receiving up to $10,000 per year, scholarship recipients will also be paired with a Novartis mentor and participate in leadership development and career-readiness courses. Applications for the need-based scholarships are currently open and close February 28, 2022 at 12:00pm EST.

While the scholarships and grants will alleviate economic strains, Williams also believes the financial assistance will inspire and renew an interest in medical majors and careers. “And it will change lives. It will have a direct impact on the students that will benefit from this particular scholarship program,” Williams said. “We want to change the way things are in our community and this is one way of doing that.”


Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.

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