Urban News Staff Reports
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) today announced partnerships with the nonprofit Testing for America to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in their COVID-19 testing plans for students, faculty and staff to help safely reopen campuses.
It is especially important for HBCUs to safely reopen this fall as communities of color across the US have been disproportionately affected by the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, and HBCUs can and will play a vital role in our nation’s recovery.
Combined, UNCF and TMCF enroll almost 300,000 students at more than 80 historically black colleges and universities. Since March, the organizations have been working with their member schools on crisis management, stabilization and now reopening campuses.
“All institutions must be able to test when they reopen for in-person instruction — whether this fall or 2021,” said UNCF President and CEO, Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “TFA’s ability to link us to high-quality providers, coupled with other safety guidance and financial support, will help bring necessary, continuous and reliable testing to entire campus communities. We are happy to partner with TFA on this critical work to help our campuses and students successfully navigate this pandemic.”
“The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is confident our new partnership with Testing for America will bring abundant and accurate COVID-19 testing to our member-schools, helping them to safely reopen and protect our communities,” said TMCF President and CEO Harry Williams.
The program is being pioneered at Delaware State University, and another half-dozen HBCUs have since become partners, with others in the process of joining.
At Delaware State, up to 3,000 students, staff and faculty will be tested frequently in combination with other safety protocols such as social distancing, a hybrid of virtual and in-person classes, mandatory masks and contact tracing. Special accommodations have been set up for students who test positive.
“The HBCU brand of excellence, education and care is specifically targeted to talented students who simply need an open door and a welcoming environment. We are home. And safety must be our priority,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen. “Our relationship with Testing for America is the No. 1 driver of our ability to reopen our campus safely.”
TFA is a nonprofit established by leading academics, engineers and entrepreneurs to solve the testing crisis in America. The organization has identified and is supporting a portfolio of high-quality, scale-ready technologies that can complete millions of tests per day at very low cost.
“We don’t need to wait for new innovations. We have the technology now to dramatically increase access to meaningful, affordable, repeat testing to help us safely and permanently reopen schools, businesses and ultimately the US economy,” said TFA Founder Jason Yeung.
TFA is currently in active discussions with K-12 schools, other higher education institutions and businesses across the country on safe and permanent reopening testing plans, as well as seeking additional philanthropic supporters and major donors to sponsor testing initiatives.
Current TFA partners include Cerner, a global health care technology company, and Illumina, the world leader in genomic sequencing, as well as philanthropic donors.
“This is solvable, and this is scalable,” said Francis deSouza, chief executive officer of Illumina. “What Testing for America has launched is demonstrating this can be done successfully, and we are proud to be part of the solution that can enable testing at scale. We encourage others to reach out and join in.”