RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — There was a packed room at the N.C. Legislative Building in Downtown Raleigh on Wednesday as students and lawmakers collectively asked for more funding for HBCUs in the state.

“If we do right by the state of North Carolina, each one of these students will be able to go on and maximize their God-given potential in our state,” Rep. Zack Hawkins said.

Students from Shaw, North Carolina Central, and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the state spoke on their own experiences at the press conference.

“HBCUs are a place of refuge and safety for so many Black students across the country,” one student said.

They also spoke on why they want to see more funding for their schools.

“I am not here to just convince you that HBCUs matter, but our communities do, too,” another student said. “We deserve true investment into our Black communities.”

North Carolina is home to 10 HBCUs. Last month, lawmakers formed the state’s first bipartisan HBCU Caucus.

“Some of the initiatives we have are, first, to educate legislators about these HBCUs, about our HBCUs, about these students,” Rep. Gladys Robinson said.

Lawmakers leading the caucus didn’t say how much more funding they want to see given to the schools, but did say investing in these students is worth it.

“We are primed for greatness and these students have shared that greatness exists, we just need to do the investment to make sure we move North Carolina forward,” Hawkins said.