May 05, 2021
Contact: Kawana McGough, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
The Student Freedom Initiative program will officially launch at Tuskegee University and nine other HBCUs in fall 2021. The Student Freedom Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is designed to be a mechanism for generational change for minority students by helping them excel in their undergraduate degrees and providing them with enhanced career opportunities upon graduation.
This program seeks to provide a wide variety of learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic-support strategies designed to address distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of minority students. In partnership with schools, students, and other collaborators, it seeks to elevate minority students. It is a student-centric program that gives students the opportunity to actively take on the responsibility of shaping their classroom learning experience.
“The Initiative will be specifically tailored to our students’ needs, giving them access to a host of new and interesting opportunities,” says Tuskegee University Interim President Dr. Charlotte P. Morris.
The Initiative offers four main support components:
- Tutoring and mentoring programs designed in cooperation with Tuskegee to tailor support to TU students
- Paid internships via internX
- Capacity building between schools and students
- An income-contingent funding alternative for eligible students through the Student Freedom Agreement
Although all Tuskegee students can participate in Student Freedom Initiative tutoring, mentoring, and internships as well as benefit from the capacity-building programs, the Student Freedom Agreement funding alternative is designed for juniors and seniors majoring in STEM programs.
- Qualifying STEM majors at Tuskegee include:
- Computer Science and Information Technology
- Computer Science – Information Systems
- Computer Science
- Aerospace Science Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
Geared toward rising junior and senior STEM majors, the Student Freedom Agreement is not meant to replace other sources of state or federal funding, scholarships or work-study programs. It is meant as an income-based repayment alternative to high-cost, fixed payment debt obligations that could negatively impact a student’s career opportunities.
“The SFI program beginning this fall will provide our Junior and Senior STEM students with an alternate resource to meet their fee obligation. Instead of using a parent plus loan or the additional unsubsidized loan option a student may choose this program to continue their enrollment at the University,” says Advergus James, Executive Director of Tuskegee University Student Financial Services.
Click here to find out more about the Student Freedom Initiative at Tuskegee University.
About the Student Freedom Initiative
The initial idea for the Student Freedom Initiative began with the inspiration of philanthropist and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith’s $34 million gift to pay off the student loan debt of the 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College. The idea grew to create lasting, generational change to ensure that student success could be fostered and student loan debt wasn’t impacting promising career paths. The Student Freedom Initiative was initially funded by two major donations. Robert F. Smith, along with the Fund II Foundation, of which Smith is founding director and President, each donated $50 million in 2020. Using the $100 million endowment, Student Freedom Initiative has been able to launch and grow, with the support of a growing number of partner organizations.
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