Student Freedom Initiative Announces $1.8 Million Grant from Prudential Financial to Launch the Handling Everyday Life Problems for Students (HELPS) Program. Read More.

Our Approach Is Holistic

How it Works

How it Works

We provide freedom in professional and life choices for juniors and seniors majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at HBCUs.  In close collaboration with participating institutions and strategic partners, we provide an income contingent alternative to high cost student loans, internships, mentoring/tutoring, and targeted capacity building. Our 5-year goal is a self-funded program to all STEM juniors and seniors at all HBCUs

The SFI Model

Leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars of donated permanent donate capital and additional funding sources, the Student Freedom Initiative remains anchored in our three core values and sustains 5,000 new students each year, enabling better outcomes. We partner with participating schools and like-minded organizations to provide access to student success services and targeted capacity building.

The Outcomes

With inputs from stakeholders, we developed outcomes aligned with our mission:

  1. Liberate students to make professional and life choices
  2. Increase African-American economic mobility via STEM
  3. Provide more favorable terms and flexibility
  4. Institutionalize a scalable platform to eventually support all students at MSIs
  5. Enable HBCU digital transformation & reduction in the digital divide
  6. Provide transformative model for policy, researchers, and student advocates
The SFI Model
Man smiling

FAQs

1

What is Student Freedom Initiative?

Student Freedom Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) by increasing their social and economic mobility.

2

What does Student Freedom Initiative do?

Student Freedom Initiative serves as a bridge between participating institutions and philanthropy, corporations, and others who seek to provide sustained support to elevate the social and economic mobility of students and increase the resilience and competitiveness of the participating institutions.

While initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) because of the historic economic and social inequities, and their historic significance and contribution of talent to the nation, Student Freedom Initiative intends to expand to other MSIs in the future.

3

Why was Student Freedom Initiative created? How is it unique?

Student Freedom Initiative was created to address the wealth gap by targeting the disproportionate student loan debt burden faced by all too many students of color. Structured as a “pay it forward” program, donations and payments made by participating students will enable Student Freedom Initiative to operate as a self-sustaining program that will benefit future generations of students and their families. Our program is designed so that every $10 million invested in the program will cover 100 new students at MSIs every year, forever.

We are unique because we are building an endowment without walls that provides a replacement for the Parent Plus and private loans for eligible students majoring in STEM attending HBCUs, forever.  Based on the funds raised, it is our aspiration to extend this endowment without walls to other MSIs.

We provide holistic services that are evidence-based, and student-centered; and leverage proven, scalable solutions and strategic partnerships.  Our mission is to provide a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choice by enabling the upward social and economic mobility of students of color through three integrated components: (1) Income Contingent Alternative – a self-sustaining fund with increased flexibility and lower cost in comparison to Parent Plus and private loans for juniors and seniors majoring in STEM, (2) Internships – hands on experience in career area of study, access to corporate leadership, industry recognized certifications, and team projects for rising sophomores and above across all majors, and (3) Tutoring, Mentorships, and Other Services -  Increased persistence through wrap around services, including emergency microgrants.   Not only do we assist students, we support participating institutions increase their resilience and competitiveness by providing cyber security upgrades to retain access to needs-based funding and grant writing support.

4

Who funds Student Freedom Initiative?

As a nonprofit public charity, we rely on the generous contributions from philanthropists. These are the Anchor Donors and Other Donors who have provided who have provided financial and/or in-kind support in the fulfillment of our mission.

In addition, all funds received from students under our Student Freedom Agreement will be recycled back into our program, and we will use these funds to continue to build the endowment without walls.

5

When will the Student Freedom Agreement be available?

Eligible students at participating schools began receiving funds under our Student Freedom Agreement in the fall of 2021.

6

Who are the participating schools in the income-contingent alternative component of the program?

Student Freedom Initiative selects additional MSI in the 4Q of each calendar year for the following academic year.

The selection process starts in 1Q Calendar Year (CY) 20xx with a request for data   Student Freedom Initiative analyzes and cleanses the data received in the 2Q CY 20xx.  Student Freedom Initiative makes a preliminary determination and notifies the institution of a tentative selection no later than end of 2Q CY 20xx.  No Later Than (NLT) the end of 3Q calendar year 20xx, the institution acknowledges acceptance and completes a common Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which defines relative roles and responsibilities, provisions for protecting personally identifiable information, and other areas of mutual concern.  With final signature of the MOU, Student Freedom Initiative announces the next institution (frequently referred to as a cohort) who would be included for academic year 20x1 for the following components of Student Freedom Initiative: (1) Income Contingent Alternative, (2) Internships, and (3) Tutoring, Mentorships, and Other Services).  Each institution can determine within which of the three components they would like to participant.

Please refer to the schools page for the current list of participating institutions.