The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $ 15 million to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) participating in the Just Project.
The Just Project is the foundation of the foundation coronavirus tests Program to facilitate the safe reopening of HBCUs. The project is bringing together 29 of the 100+ HBCUs across the country to improve access to coronavirus diagnostic tests for campuses and their communities.
"Reopening and keeping sites open safely takes a number of things, but absolutely requires access to quick and effective COVID-19 testing," said Allan Golston, president of the US program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, during one Press conference Tuesday.
The project will set up coronavirus test centers at 29 HBCU schools that will be equipped with the
Laboratory analytical skills required to collaborate with other sites and quickly deploy and process tests. The hubs will process tests from surrounding HBCUs, or "spokes," according to Toni Hoover, director of strategy planning & management at the Gates Foundation.
"The grants allow these HBCUs" to test all of their students, faculties, and staff as often as their protocols require, "Hoover told USA Today.
The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting color communities in the United States, and the number of cases is increasing across the country. Black Americans are more likely to get the virus due to factors such as education, race, occupation, and location. Black Americans are also more likely to die from the coronavirus due to pre-existing medical conditions and poor health care. The black economy is also negatively affected.
The first wave of Foundation investment includes HBCU's Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Dr. Larry Robinson, President of Florida A&M University, believes the Just Project is of paramount importance not only to the health of HBCU students, but also to help them graduate without interrupting their education.
"We are all in these different communities where these differences are occurring and where the impact will be huge," said Robinson. "The ability to test (members of the campus community) is critical to ensuring their safety as we venture into a new normal for our operations."