PA allocates $2.5 million of COVID relief money on diversity, equity programs

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will spend $2.5 million on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

The money comes from America Rescue Plan funds earmarked for the state's university system this coming academic year.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) will spend $2.5 million of COVID-19 relief money on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. 

In late June, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) announced support for a budget that included $50 million in American Rescue Plan money for PASSHE “to support the redesign and growth of the system to make a college education more affordable and accessible for students.” 

“This budget makes a historic investment in education so our students get the knowledge and skills they deserve,” remarked Wolf in a June 25 announcement.

The allocation — which will extend for the following three years and give PASSHE a total of $200 million — contains the $2.5 million for DEI in the current school year. A press release from the Pennsylvania Senate Democrats attributes the allocation to the efforts of State Senator Judy Schwank. 

[RELATED: Pennsylvania higher ed governing body makes massive ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ move]

The release notes that East Stroudsburg University students Brandon Teel and Zuri Redmond are currently organizing “the racist campus environment at their institution.” They created the “Coalition to End Campus Racism” in order to demand that PASSHE leverage its diversity funds to “end racial harassment and speech,” “unveil mandatory diversity training,” and “hire more faculty and staff of color,” among other goals.

As Campus Reform previously reported, the American Rescue Plan — President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill — included $35 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which ensures that colleges “have critical resources to implement public health protocols, execute distance learning plans, and provide emergency grants to students in need.”

[RELATED: Biden’s stimulus plan makes billions already thrown at colleges look like chump change]

Campus Reform reported in April that Congress allocated $14.2 billion to universities through the CARES Act — meaning that the American Rescue Plan offered colleges nearly three times the amount of emergency funding as the earlier package.

Campus Reform reached out to PASSHE for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft