The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that it is investing $3 million in Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest private historically Black college (HBCU).
“Because of the opportunities in education, employment and community stability they provide to their hometowns and beyond, higher-education institutions are cornerstones for prosperity in rural communities across the country,” said Bette Brand, the USDA’s deputy under secretary for rural development. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural higher-education institutions, and especially HBCU’s in building stronger and more prosperous futures for generations to come.”
Chris Beeker is the USDA rural development state director for Alabama.
“It’s exciting to help increase the capacity and competitiveness of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in rural America to ensure that future generations of American students have access to the highest quality education with modern facilities,” said Beeker.
USDA is investing in Talladega College through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. Investments through this program can be used to build or upgrade a wide range of rural community facilities such as schools, libraries, clinics and public safety facilities.
Talladega College will use its $3 million loan to complete the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center named to honor its 20th president. They are also building a residence hall to accommodate needed additional campus student housing.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for community facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.
The history of Talladega College began on Nov. 20, 1865, when two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, both of Talladega, met in convention with a group of new freedmen in Mobile, Alabama.
From this meeting came the commitment: “We regard the education of our children and youths as vital to the preservation of our liberties, and true religion as the foundation of all real virtue, and shall use our utmost endeavors to promote these blessings in our common country.“
Talladega College is now listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast. It is also included in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges guide in three categories: best HBCUs, National Liberal Arts Colleges, and Top Performers on Social Mobility. And it’s included in Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges.
Talladega recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online master of science in Computer Information Systems.
New construction on campus includes a 45,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art residence hall, which opened in January 2019, the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which opened in January 2020, and houses Hale Woodruff’s acclaimed Amistad Murals, and the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center, which opened in August 2020.