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FREEDOM Video Competition

Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) is releasing our first video competition called FREEDOM:

Focused on
Reducing and
Debt and

This competition aims to engage STEM students in all grade levels at our participating institutions to create a documentary on how students and their families decided how to finance their college education. Students will create a 3–5 minute video documentary explaining the specific topic.

FREEDOM Video Competition Official Rules

1. ELIGIBILITY. The FREEDOM Video Competition (the “Video Competition”) is open to students of all grade levels who are enrolled full-time at one of the Student Freedom Initiatives’ (“SFI”) participating schools in Cohorts 1, 2 and 3. Entrants must be working towards a degree in an approved STEM major and meeting satisfactory academic progress as defined by the entrant’s school.  International students and foreign exchange students authorized to enter the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa are ineligible to enter the Video Competition.  Any entrant who is under 18 years of age or otherwise under the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which the entrant resides (a “Minor”) must obtain permission to enter this Video Competition from their parent or legal guardian (“Parent”), and the agreement of the Parent to these Official Rules.  An entry submitted by a Minor shall be deemed submitted by the Parent and shall be treated as if the Parent had made such entry.  Minor entrants and their Parents may be required to sign and return an Acknowledgement and Release.

2. HOW TO ENTER. From Monday, October 2, 2023, through Friday, January 26, 2024, entrants can submit their videos along with their completed application by following the instructions listed under Instructions on the official FREEDOM Video Competition website. Failure to comply with these instructions or these Official Rules, or failure to complete an application may result in your entry being disqualified in our sole discretion.  Only one entry per individual is permitted.  Individuals who enter multiple times, including through multiple email addresses or identities will be disqualified in our sole discretion.  By entering this Video Competition, the entrant accepts and agrees to these Official Rules and the decisions of the judges and SFI, which shall be final in all matters.

3. VIDEOS.  Each video must be between 3-5 minutes in length.  Entrants may not submit videos that contain any elements that violate a third party’s intellectual property rights or other rights, or that depict individuals that have not granted express permission to be depicted.

4. JUDGING CRITERIA: Videos will be judged according to four main criteria: (1) creativity, (2) relevance to the topic, (3) source material use and (4) communication of the topic.  Judges will assess creativity of the videos based on the extent to which the applicant was creative (e.g., content, format, delivery) in their response to the topic as defined without distracting from the intended message.  Judges will assess the relevance of the videos based on the extent to which the response is consistent and addresses the topic as defined.  Judges will assess the use of source material in the videos based on the extent to which the response leveraged credible source(s) for any claims made in addressing the topic as defined.  Judges will assess the communication of the topic in the videos based on the extent to which the response was clear, articulate, concise, and compelling in addressing the topic as defined.  Winners will be announced on Thursday, February 29, 2024, at 12 p.m. on SFI’s YouTube channel.

5. USE OF VIDEOS, NAME AND LIKENESS.  By entering this Video Competition, entrant agrees that SFI can use entrant’s video, name and likeness, and biographical information for marketing and promotional purposes worldwide, and without further compensation or right of approval, unless prohibited by law.  All federal and state laws apply.

6. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: By entering this Video Competition, entrant waives all right to, and holds SFI harmless from, any claim, liability, loss, damage (including punitive, incidental, and consequential damages), or expense (including attorneys’ fees) arising out of or in connection with participation in this Video Competition or the acceptance, use, or misuse of any prize.  SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. SFI will not be responsible for: late, incomplete, or incorrect entries; technical, hardware, or software malfunctions, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, inaccurate, incomplete, garbled, or delayed electronic communications whether caused by the sender or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or used in this Video Competition; by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this Video Competition; or any typographical, technological, or other error in the publishing of the Video Competition, administration of the Video Competition, or announcement of the winners.

7. PRIZES: Judges of the Video Competition will select ten (10) winners.  There will be a total of $20,000 in monetary awards. The 1st prize winner will receive $7,500, the 2nd prize winner will receive $5,000, the 3rd prize winner will receive $2,000, and the remaining 7 winners will each receive $750.  SFI staff will select one (1) entrant for “The People’s Choice” award. The winner of “The People’s Choice” award will receive $250. If a Minor is selected as a winner, any prize will be awarded in the name of their Parent.  Selected winners may be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release and any other documents that SFI may require.  If a potential winner is disqualified for any reason, SFI will award the applicable prize to the runner up, as determined in the judge’s discretion applying the judging criteria.  SFI reserves the right to substitute any prize with another prize of equal or greater value.

8.  CHOICE OF LAW AND FORUM: Entrant agrees that all matters arising out of or relating to this Video Competition and these Official Rules are governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of Delaware, without giving effect to any of its conflict of laws provisions thereof.  Entrant further agrees that any legal suit, action, or proceeding arising out of or relating to this Video Competition and these Official Rules shall be brought exclusively in the applicable federal or state courts located in the county of New Castle, Delaware.  Entrant acknowledges that it will not be able to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.

9. PRIVACY: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy.  To read the Privacy Policy, click here.

Video Documentary Topic

Explain the decision process used by you and your family when determining how to finance your college education.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Unofficial transcript
  • Enrolled full-time at one of SFI’s participating schools (our Income Contingent Alternative participating institutions listed under cohorts 1, 2, and 3)
  • Working towards a degree in an approved STEM major (all grade levels)
  • Meeting satisfactory academic progress as defined by entrant’s school
  • Complete a W-9 (only required for the winners)
  • Not an international student or foreign exchange student authorized to enter the United States on a non-immigrant visa


  • The student will record a 3-to-5-minute video on the topic “Explain the decision process used by you and your family when determining how to finance your college education.”
  • The student will use any device of their choice that has a camera to record the video. If the student decides to use a paid application to record the video, Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) and anyone associated with the FREEDOM Video Competition will not reimburse the student for any cost/expenses incurred.
  • Do not forget to include an additional page (include name, date, and college) for work cited or end credits if you quote any work/material/content/information in your video that does not belong to you. If you do not give credit to any work/material/content/information stated in your video, your video will be disqualified based on plagiarism.
  • Make sure to complete the entrant application to receive the Dropbox link to upload material. We will email you a Dropbox link to upload your video (required), unofficial transcript (required) and work cited or end credits, if necessary.

Cash Prizes Based On Placement

Judges will select ten students from 1st to 10th places, and SFI Staff will choose one for The People’s Choice.

Process and Timeline

All times are in Eastern Standard Time

FREEDOM Video Competition Judges

Nefertari Carver, Senior Vice President
Nefertari Carver is a Senior Vice President at Laurel Strategies where she designs and executes communications strategies, advises clients on high-stakes situations and other sensitive matters, and leads ongoing positioning and media relations.

Nefertari draws on her experience working with CEOs and executives across the private, public and social sectors. She has worked with leadership teams on strategy and execution at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and with AARP’s Public Policy Institute where she developed a national coalition of philanthropic, business, and non-profit organizations.

Early in her career, Nefertari worked with Donna Brazile where she oversaw press relations, research, and thought leadership convenings; and served in the offices of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Nefertari holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University.

Jaren McKinnie, Director
Jaren McKinnie is a Director at Laurel Strategies. Prior to joining Laurel, he served as a healthcare paralegal and a legislative intern in the New York State Senate and the U.S. Senate. Jaren graduated with a B.A. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and with a certificate in French Language and Culture. In his spare time, he enjoys stargazing, cooking, and watching the Cleveland Browns.

Shaunya Ishmael, PMP, CSM, CISSP
Program Manager and Consultant

Shaunya Ishmael joined Cisco in 2016 and is currently serving as Leader, People Consultant for the Social Impact Team’s Education Pillar.  She has spent her entire career in Information Technology working in Telecommunications, Networking and Information Security.  Shaunya is certified as a Project Management Professional, Scrum Master and Certified Information Systems Security Professional. She holds a BS in Physics from Clark Atlanta University and an MS in Electric Engineering from Tuskegee University, along with Master’s Certificates in Project Management and Information Security.  Shaunya is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She is very passionate about working with HBCUs and enjoys serving in whatever capacity is needed.

Keema Givens, Associate Attorney - Corporate

Keema Givens is an associate in Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s Palo Alto office. She represents public and private companies in U.S. and cross-border transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, and other complex strategic matters. She regularly advises clients on a range of issues involving corporate governance and securities laws, as well as other general corporate and contractual matters. Ms. Givens also has an active pro bonopractice and regularly collaborates with subject matter experts to advise nonprofit entities on a variety of issues involving corporate and contractual matters.


  1. Completed the entrant application.
  2. Submitted unofficial transcript.
  3. Video relates to topic.
  4. The video is 3-to-5-minutes in length.
  5. Work cited or end credits provided for any work/material/content/information that is not your own stated in your video. Upload with video.
  6. Completed the Parent’s Contact Information on the entrant application if you are under 18. If this section is not completed and you are under 18, your video will be disqualified.  
  7. Downloaded the Dropbox app on iPhone, Android or computer and created a FREE account to upload video.

Any questions, please email