HAMPTON, Va. (November 19, 2020) – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced last week that Hampton University will receive part of a $15 million donation over the next three years that will help aid in the coronavirus response at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Through The Just Project, 29 of the nation’s more than 100 HBCUs have teamed up to increase access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing for campuses and their communities. The project is establishing testing hubs, and Hampton University will house one of those hubs.
“Hampton University is grateful to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this generous donation to set up a testing hub on our illustrious campus. With the lab equipment, additional test kits, and training and laboratory capacity for rapid test processing, Hampton University will be able to process COVID-19 tests for our faculty, staff and students, plus five other HBCUs in Virginia and West Virginia,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
The foundation’s three-year, $15 million investment supports up to 10 of the participating HBCUs with medical, veterinary, pharmacy, and agriculture schools to serve as diagnostic “testing hubs.” Expanding test processing capacity at these “hub” institutions enables the project to extend its reach to additional institutions. Because COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color in the U.S., it is important for this demographic to have access to testing.
“The CDC is reporting that Black Americans are twice as likely to be infected and die from the virus as whites, and that infections among adults aged 18 to 22 increased 55 percent between August and September of 2020. Our nation’s HBCUs, who are more than 100 strong, serve a quarter million students in America, and face real challenges and opportunities in this pandemic,” said Allan Golston, President of U.S. Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
To date, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than $350 million to support the global health response to COVID-19. This $15 million donation will support those efforts as part of the foundation’s overall COVID-19 response.
“We are making this three-year commitment to this work for two reasons. First, the colleges and universities will continue to need access to diagnostic testing and test processing until vaccines and therapeutics are universally available and accessible. The second reason is even more important. It will enable these institutions to strengthen their lab capabilities and research capacities, and these benefits will extend way beyond the pandemic,” said Dr. Toni Hoover, Director, Strategy, Planning and Management for Global Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hampton University students will also be highly involved with the testing hub on campus. “Our students are going to be involved via contact tracing. They will help us in the computer science department with setting up dashboards like other institutions have done. Our clinical students, our pharmacy students will be very helpful with immunizations because as we think about flu and the flu season beginning, and compounding that with the pandemic, we are going to be providing immunizations as our pharmacy students always have,” said Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Hampton University Vice President for Research, Associate Provost and Dean, Graduate College.