Robert F. Smith—the billionaire who pledged during a commencement speech last year to pay off the student debt of the Morehouse College class of 2019—is, according to time.com, launching a new initiative to help ease the burden of student loans at all HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
The Student Freedom Initiative, a nonprofit organization, will launch in 2011 at up to 11 HBCUS and will offer juniors and seniors who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors a flexible, lower-risk alternative to high-interest private student loans.
SFI will target the disproportionate loan burden on Black students while creating more choices for students whose career options or further educational opportunities might be limited by heavy student debt.
The aims of the Initiative is to help 5,000 new students each year via a $50 million grant from Fund II Foundation, a charitable organization of which Smith is founding director and president.
[To see Robert Smith speak on the need for this initiative, watch here]
Smith—the wealthiest Black man in the United States, according to Forbes—donated $34 million last year that covered the student debt of about 400 Morehouse graduates, including the educational debt incurred by their families.