Improved safety, recent successes helping HBCUs grow across the country

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HOUSTON — College enrollment is on a slight downturn across the United States — nearly 2 percent, according to The Atlantic.

However, this isn't the case at the nation's historically black colleges and universities, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. An estimated 38 percent of HBCUs reported a 10 percent increase in undergrad students from 2013 to 2014, the research suggested.

“The pride has always been there; the difference is that many African-Americans are afraid of what is going on. And they're afraid for their children,” Director Marybeth Gasman of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Minority-Serving Institutions said.

One significant cause for the increase: safety. Racial tensions across the country have led to some minority students being drawn to campuses where they'll feel safe from all of that such as Praire View A&M and Texas Southern University, right here in Houston.

“It's more of a home atmosphere. Everyone feels like family so, like things that's going on at Mizzou, we don't experience that at HBCUs,” PVAMU student India Foster said.

Her schoolmate, Marcus Dodson, agrees.

"At [predominately white institutions], I hear stories all the time of racial tensions, of names, of stuff being messed with or even getting hit or even getting targeted for racial profiling," Dodson said.

Prairie View A&M has seen a little over 5 percent increase in enrollment from 2012 to 2015.

“I feel like I wouldn't have been discriminated against, but I wouldn't have been as welcomed,” TSU student Alexis Blake said.

But there's another great explanation says Lauretta Byars at Prairie View A&M University.

“What the public is starting to see is the success of some of our programs, for instance we graduate the third largest number of African-American engineers, so people see that we graduate engineers so students of all ethnicities come to look at our engineering program,” Byars said.

Improving academics, and providing a safe space for everyone. It's a recipe for growth that seems to be paying off here at home— and across a nation trying to heal from racial disparity.