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Robert F. Smith’s Initiative to Help with Student Debt at HBCUs

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robert f smith morehouse college

Marcus IngramGetty Images

Robert F. Smith, self-made billionaire and famous philanthropist—and considered one of Town & Country‘s summer time cowl stars—has a plan to assist alleviate the burden of student debt for these attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Smith’s new non-profit, the Student Freedom Initiative, will launch at as much as 11 HBCUs within the fall of 2021 (the record of faculties has but to be finalized), providing students in STEM majors a extra versatile different to the standard high-interest personal loans. Smith hopes to assist 5,000 new students yearly, as soon as the initiative is underway.

It’ll launch with a $50 million donation from the Fund II Foundation, which Smith based, and is hoping to lift one other $500 million by October. Combined with extra investments and graduates’ income-based repayments, the initiative is designed to develop into “self-sustaining.”

“You think about these students graduating and then plowing so much of their wealth opportunity into supporting this student debt, that’s a travesty in and of itself,” Smith defined to Time. He later added, “I think it’s important that we do these things at scale and en masse because that’s how you lift up entire communities.”

robert smith
Robert F. Smith at at his dwelling at Lincoln Hills, a ranch in Colorado.

Allie Holloway

Smith—the richest Black particular person in America, in keeping with Forbes—made headlines in 2019 for single-handedly paying off the student debt for Morehouse College’s graduating class, at a complete price of about $40 million.

“I was looking at 400 students 400 years after 1619,” Smith advised Town & Country of that day, when he spoke at Morehouse’s graduation. “And they were burdened. And their families were burdened. They had taken on a tremendous amount of debt to get that education. And liberating them was the right thing for me to do. Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. I mean, globally. I didn’t realize how many people understood the pain and debilitating effect that student debt has for decades—not just on that individual but on families.”

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