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July 2, 2023

Statement From Mark A. Brown, Executive Director, Student Freedom Initiative, Regarding the Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Affirmative Action

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to ban the use of affirmative action is a devastating blow to the hard-fought progress made over the last several decades. Affirmative action has been an effective tool in dismantling centuries of racial and economic injustice. Without it, we risk going back to a system that fails to fully acknowledge and recognize students’ lived experiences.

This decision will undoubtedly make it more difficult for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to enroll in colleges and universities, and underscores the need to bolster pathways to higher education via Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), as well as increase support and capacity so they can serve more students.

HBCUs and MSIs have long served as bastions of equity, having educated Black leaders from Justice Thurgood Marshall to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Toni Morrison. Today, they graduate 75% of Black PhDs, 50% of Black Engineers, 80% of Black Federal Judges and high percentages of Black students into other fields that offer economic mobility for themselves and their families. And they do this with a fraction of the funding of their non-HBCU counterparts.

We cannot allow the impacts of striking down affirmative action to ruin the progress we have made on expanding diversity and achieving racial and economic justice.

Faced with this decision, every corner of our society must now be more intentional in the ways that we attract, recruit and support diverse students and talent. We are calling on leaders from all sectors to stand with us and other organizations to ensure we increase educational opportunities for students from all backgrounds – including those most impacted by this devastating decision.

About Student Freedom Initiative

A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative aims to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education. This is achieved by providing 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) Student Freedom Fund as a private education loan alternative to Parent PLUS loans, (2) Internships and industry-driven certifications, (3) Comprehensive Supports, and (4) Targeted MSI Capacity Building (e.g., access to affordable broadband, strengthening endowment governance and risk adjusted returns, workforce development in clean energy). 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 MSI ecosystem.

To date, the Student Freedom Initiative has received generous contributions from Robert F. SmithFund 2 FoundationCiscoJane StreetPrudentialFirst Republic, and the Walmart Foundation. The program has also been acknowledged and supported by the Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education. Our ability to provide support to MSI students is based on the continued financial support of these donors and others interested in supporting our mission.

To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter @StudentFreedom.


Student Freedom Initiative:
Dafna Tapiero