Florida A&M University announced it has received $1.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to operate its own coronavirus testing lab and serve as a hub for other historically Black colleges and universities, including Howard University.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, who recently joined other HBCU administrators and foundation officials in announcing the philanthropy’s $15 million investment to assist FAMU and 28 other HBCUs, said in a press statement that the university “can now build the COVID-19 testing infrastructure crucial to our goal to prevent the spread of the virus and minimize its impacts on our communities.”
Funding for the on-campus lab will be provided through October 2022.
Tentative plans that include collected specimens to be tested in a 340-square-foot laboratory at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research, also call for students, faculty and staff to get swabbed at the FAMU Activity Center, with results available within 48 hours.
“COVID-19 is exposing some hard truths about inequity in the United States, particularly its impact on the Black community,” Allan Golston, Gates Foundation president, said in the press release. “This data suggests our nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, which are more than 100 strong, who served more than a quarter of a million students across this country and are a critical resource of educational opportunity, face real challenges and opportunities in this pandemic.”
Tthe FAMU lab will serve as a testing hub for other Florida HBCUs, including Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University.
In addition to FAMU and Howard University, the first wave of schools to benefit from the foundation’s investment will be Hampton University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Xavier University.