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February 29, 2024

Student Freedom Initiative and Clearloop Are Proud to Support HBCU’s Receiving Monetary Awards through the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Education Prize

WASHINGTON, DC [Feb. 29, 2024] – Today, Student Freedom Initiative is pleased to announce that 10 schools were awarded $100,000 each from the Department of Energy through its HBCU Clean Energy Education Prize—Partnership Track, which focuses on forming key partnerships between HBCUs and other universities, institutions, government agencies, and leaders in the clean energy space to develop programs that will accelerate opportunities for HBCU students.

SFI has partnered with Clearloop to provide economic, health and environmental benefits of clean energy to several of the HBCUs and the communities surrounding the campuses. This partnership focuses on building solar projects that invest in HBCU communities.

SFI and Clearloop provided guidance and helped steer several HBCUs through the process to apply for the Clean Energy Education Prize. Dillard University and Tennessee State University received awards.

“SFI is honored to partner with Clearloop and selected HBCUs on the worldwide challenge of clean energy.  Since their inception, HBCUs have been focused on solving worldwide challenges ranging from soil cultivation, health care, and aviation challenges to name a few. Today’s challenge is clean energy and once again HBCUs will bring this challenge to the classrooms and allow our brilliant students to tackle it,” said Dr. Mark a. Brown, SFI’s President and CEO. “Clearloop, noted experts in the field of clean energy, offer the expertise and commitment needed to make this happen. As such, this project not only provides clean energy resources to schools, it provides students with access to internships and careers in the clean energy field which is clearly the future of work.”

“Developing a diverse, well-equipped, engaged clean tech workforce is critical to the success of our nation’s transition to renewable energy, and Clearloop (a Silicon Ranch Company) is proud to support the efforts of these historic institutions to increase access to educational opportunities— and the tools to thrive— in the clean energy space,” said Bob Corney, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Clearloop.

“We’re proud to partner with Clearloop to invest in carbon neutrality in ways that improve racial equity,” said Robert F. Smith, SFI’s Board chair. “The COVID-19 pandemic and events of 2020 made clear there are persistent, structural challenges facing African Americans, including in the southeast. All communities simultaneously face the existential risks of climate change. This groundbreaking project will address both issues, deploying solar energy into a particularly disadvantaged African American community and creating local jobs.”

“Dillard University is excited to have received the Planning Phase 1 Grant to bring the City of New Orleans higher education institutions together to build a collective of strategies to bring more students to the Industry of Energy! When Dillard leads, our Communiversity Vision comes to life,” said Dr. Charles Prince, Dillard University’s Chief of Staff.

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 support; 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. Smith, Fund 2 Foundation, Cisco, Jane Street, Prudential, First 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 aiding our mission.

To learn more, visit, and follow us on Twitter @StudentFreedom