RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is introducing a bill to strengthen the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.

The measure would create a program of competitive grants that would help fund innovative programs addressing the specific needs of students at black colleges.

Hagan envisions one year planning grants to develop innovative programs. There would also be five-year grants to help run the programs. Grant recipients would have to have a 15 percent money match from another source.

The program would give priority to increasing the number of black males getting degrees and efforts to foster partnerships between black colleges and local high schools. It also would emphasize strengthening partnerships between black college and other institutions to support on-campus research.

There are 10 historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina.