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From eliminating the student loan debt for Morehouse College’s 2019 graduating class to launching an internship program for students of color, billionaire Robert F. Smith has been dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders. His latest effort is focused on providing HBCU students with the support needed to pursue careers in STEM fields, HBCU Connect reported.

Smith recently donated $50 million to The Student Freedom Initiative. The nonprofit organization is centered on addressing the disparities surrounding student loan debt pertaining to students from disenfranchised communities. The nonprofit not only provides students of color from low-income households with financial support, but it also aligns them with paid internships, tutoring and mentorships. Juniors and seniors who are pursuing STEM-related degrees at historically Black colleges and universities will be eligible to receive support through the initiative over the next five years. Participating HBCUs will be unveiled in November.

“Each year, thousands of Black graduates from HBCUs across America enter the workforce with a crushing debt burden that stunts future decisions and prevents opportunities and choices,” said Smith, who serves as Board Chair of the organization. “A college education should empower and prepare our next generation for a limitless future. The initiative is purposefully built to redress historic economic and social inequities and to offer a sustainable, scalable platform to invest in the education of future Black leaders. I urge others to join this important cause so that together we can liberate the human spirit.” Smith’s generous donation comes after the nonprofit received $50 million in June from the Fund II Foundation.

Many efforts are being led to support the financial futures of HBCU students as well as the financial stability of HBCU institutions. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority recently raised over $1 million to donate to historically Black colleges and universities.

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