WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to provide historically black colleges and universities a long-awaited boost as he looks to outdo his predecessors – including the nation’s first African-American president – on the issue.

Trump will sign an executive order as soon as Monday, when the schools’ presidents arrive in Washington for a visit. It’s expected to strengthen the office that pushes the federal government to do business with the colleges by moving it to the White House and providing it specific goals, according to those who are helping to write the order.

The potential is huge. Federal agencies have thousands of contracts with colleges, universities and think tanks worth billions of dollars, primarily for research.

“It would be truly, truly historic,” said Leonard Haynes, a longtime educator who ran the office and is helping to write the executive order. “It’s part of a longtime dream … none of (the other presidents) had the courage to do it.”

Though African-Americans overwhelmingly support Democrats in elections, many education experts credit Republican leaders for helping to improve HBCUs, the common abbreviation for historically black schools.

Some black college administrators say they were disappointed in President Obama for not making the schools a priority and, in some cases, hurting their financial health and contributing to declining enrollment with changes he made to loan programs. The schools receive money from the federal government through grants, contracts, appropriations and student aid.

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