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May 29, 2024

The Student Freedom Initiative Congratulates President and CEO Dr. Mark A. Brown on his Appointment as the 10th President of Tuskegee University

The Student Freedom Initiative congratulates our President and CEO Dr. Mark A. Brown on his appointment as the 10th President of Tuskegee University, marking the first time in Tuskegee’s nearly 143-year history that an alum will lead the university. 

Since joining the Student Freedom Initiative in 2021, Mark has led remarkable strategic growth. From an initial cohort of nine HBCUs, SFI-affiliated schools now consist of 61 HBCUs, two Tribal Colleges and Universities and three other MSIs across 22 states, positively affecting nearly 200,000 students through SFI’s numerous programmatic initiatives. This has included providing 503 students with affordable student loan options through the Student Freedom Loan Agreement; granting nearly 400 students with additional financial support through SFI’s Handling Everyday Life Problems for Students program; enrolling 420 students in the Student Investment Program; engaging 45 HBCUs across 19 states to help them secure federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding to close the digital divide; upgrading the cybersecurity capacity at 42 MSIs to protect over $1.6 billion in federal Title IV funding, and more.

“Over the last three years, it has been a privilege to work with the team at SFI to advance the organization’s mission of closing the racial wealth gap through the lens of education. We have made incredible progress to advance SFI’s vision in collaboration with our HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, and other MSIs. ” said Mark Brown, President and CEO of the Student Freedom Initiative. “I look forward to returning home to lead Tuskegee University, growing its impact and preparing students for leadership in the second quarter of the 21st Century.”

As Mark transitions out of his current role, Keith Shoates, SFI’s Chief Operating Officer, will serve as the organization’s next President and CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to congratulate Dr. Mark A. Brown on his appointment as the 10th President of Tuskegee University, his alma mater,” said Robert F. Smith, SFI’s Founder and board chair. “In just three short years, Mark has grown SFI’s programming to reach hundreds of thousands of students across the country in ways that support their educational and professional opportunities. I wish Mark the best of luck in his new role, and look forward to partnering with him to provide Tuskegee’s students with critical resources that will allow them to affordably pursue high-quality STEM education.”

“Mark is an extraordinary leader who has brought a wealth of experience to SFI,” said Keith Shoates, COO of SFI. “Thanks to Mark’s dedication over the last three years, SFI is well-positioned to continue the critical work of ensuring all students have the resources they need to be successful at college and beyond.”

Mark will begin his new role on July 1, 2024. 


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 social media  @StudentFreedom.