Skip to main content

Small Business Administration: Key Entrepreneurship Programs and Activities Do Not Specifically Target Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but Collaboration Exists with Some Schools

GAO-19-328R Published: Mar 07, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 08, 2019.
Jump To:

Fast Facts

The Small Business Administration may partner with colleges and universities to foster entrepreneurship. For example, a campus can host a center, funded in part by SBA, that provides training and counseling to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Since 1980, federal agencies, including SBA, have been directed to reach out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to help raise awareness of their programs and services.

While SBA does not specifically target Historically Black Colleges and Universities for outreach, we found several examples of collaboration. For example, SBA cosponsored entrepreneurial training sessions with some HBCUs.


The front of the Small Business Administration building

The front of the Small Business Administration building

Skip to Highlights


What GAO Found

Federal priorities for working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), as expressed in Executive Order 13779 (2017), include helping young adults by strengthening HBCU participation in federal programs. In response to the Executive Order, the Small Business Administration (SBA) identified two priorities in its 2018 agency plan to help increase HBCU participation and capacity in relation to its programs: (1) provide HBCUs with information on accessing and competing for federal grants and contracts, and (2) enhance HBCUs' capabilities in helping young adults.

SBA's key programs and outreach activities that foster entrepreneurship do not specifically target HBCUs, but collaboration exists with some HBCUs. For example, some HBCUs host Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), have co-sponsored activities, and signed strategic alliance memorandums. SBDCs provide technical assistance to small business and aspiring entrepreneurs and 18 HBCUs are in the SBDC network. Several HBCUs signed co-sponsorship agreements with SBA to organize activities to foster entrepreneurship. Twenty-four HBCUs have strategic alliance memorandums with SBA to facilitate working relationships.

Why GAO Did This Study

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) play an important and unique role in the higher education system. For example, more than one-third of African-Americans who received a doctorate in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics in 2016 obtained their undergraduate degrees from an HBCU, and many also received their doctorates from an HBCU. The White House Initiative on HBCUs was established in 1980 as a government-wide effort to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs, including their ability to participate in federal programs.

The Small Business Administration's (SBA) mission is to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses. SBA also works with public- and private-sector partners, including colleges and universities, to strengthen or expand businesses development and foster entrepreneurship. However, little is known about the extent of SBA's activities and partnership programs with the 101 HBCUs, as of December 2018. This report examines (1) federal priorities and SBA goals related to working with HBCUs, and (2) SBA's key programs and outreach activities for fostering entrepreneurship, particularly with HBCUs, and what is known about HBCU participation in these programs and activities.

For more information, contact Anna Maria Ortiz at (202) 512-8678 or

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


Historically Black colleges and universitiesEntrepreneursHigher educationPublic and private partnershipsSmall businessSmall business development programsBusiness centersWomenFederal assistance programsExecutive orders