Skip to content
July 27, 2022

Saint Augustine’s University Partners with Student Freedom Initiative to Receive $1.6 Million in Software and Services

July 27, 2022

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) has signed Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) Cybersecurity memorandum of understanding to participate in Student Freedom Initiative’s HBCU Capacity Building Effort.

Student Freedom Initiative, along with its strategic partnerships with Cisco, will work to address the digital divide faced by the nation’s HBCUs. The services provided will be at no cost to HBCUs.

“This is an exciting time for Saint Augustine’s University,” said SAU President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. “This partnership advances our position by giving our students the core competencies and a secure, newly improved technological infrastructure necessary to prepare them for global leadership.”

Student Freedom Initiative and Cisco are well-positioned to lead HBCUs through the process of implementing enhanced cybersecurity frameworks. Under this program, Saint Augustine’s will lower its risk of cyber-attacks and position itself to take advantage of new opportunities that will close the digital divide.

“Becoming a part of the SFI’s HBCU Capacity Building Effort is a major step towards advancing Dr. McPhail’s strategic initiatives related to Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (ST(R)E(A)M),” said Dr. Terry Kidd, Vice President of Strategic Planning, Research, Technology & Innovation. “In a rapidly changing higher education landscape, partnership such as these plays a critical role in expanding our digital infrastructure to innovate our learning ecosystem for the success of our students.”

Cisco is donating more than $100 million in software and services to help HBCUs comply with NIST standards. Additionally, Cisco Networking Academy, an industry-standard IT education program, will be available to all HBCUs. This program will help ensure HBCU students and staff access relevant cybersecurity training and workforce development material.

“Collectively, Student Freedom Initiative and Cisco will bring meaningful, sustained, and measurable opportunities to advance the HBCU ecosystem,” added Keith B. Shoates, chief operating officer of Student Freedom Initiative.

Cybersecurity challenges and the ability to adequately keep pace with technological advancements are significant concerns in higher education.

About Student Freedom Initiative

A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative provides a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (“MSIs”) by increasing their social and economic mobility using a student centric, evidence based, holistic, and collaborative approach. Initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Student Freedom Initiative enables mobility through four transformational components: (1) Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus and Private Loans, (2) Internships, (3) Tutoring/Mentorships/Other Services, and (4) Targeted HBCU Capacity Building. Student Freedom Initiative collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses, and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire HBCU ecosystem.

To date, Student Freedom Initiative has received generous contributions from our anchor donors Robert F. Smith, Fund II Foundation, and Cisco Systems, and many others who have provided financial and/or in-kind services. The program has also been acknowledged and supported by the Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education.

To learn more, visit or @StudentFreedom on Twitter.