- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) — On the eve of commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday at Maryland Church Monday, the White House called news agencies to note that the president has asked for increases in several small federal programs to assist African-American and Hispanic colleges.

The president's 2004 budget request will ask for 5 percent increases for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program, the Historically Black Graduate Institutions and the Hispanic Serving Institutions.

The so-called "call around," a device to alert news agencies to important developments, came just days after Bush ordered the Department of Justice to file a briefing in a lawsuit opposing the University of Michigan's affirmative action program. His action was widely deplored by major Hispanic and African-American groups.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Sunday's announcement was made as a further way of marking King's birthday. President and Mrs. Bush Monday will attend a service for King at the First Baptist Church of Glen Arden, Maryland, and participate in a round-table meeting at the church. The round-table meeting is closed to the press, the White House said, but the church service will be open.

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities makes grants to 99 institutions to help them improve facilities and gain stability. The program would be increased by $224 million under Bush's proposal.

The Historically Black Graduate Institutions makes 5-year grants to 18 institutions to expand their graduate level programs. It would get $53 under the proposal.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions HSIS program makes grants to institutions whose full-time population includes 25 percent Hispanic students of which at least 50 percent are low-income.

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