Steve Harvey and Marjorie Harvey are joining the fight to close the wealth gap between HBCUs and PWIs. The first step in this journey has led the couple’s foundation to billionaire Robert Smith, who is best known for offering to pay off student loans for Morehouse College graduates. Together, Black News reports that trio is expanding Smith’s Student Freedom Initiative from nine partner institutions to 29 partner institutions.
“My team and I are proud to support the work of Robert F. Smith and the Student Freedom Initiative to highlight the outstanding job done by HBCUs and other MSIs to elevate the social and economic mobility of our students to achieve their greatest potential.” Smith said in a press release obtained by Black News.
“Together, we look forward to sharing and promoting the extraordinary talent of our students in a competitive global economy. Expanding the number of participating HBCUs in the Student Freedom Initiative program and partnering with the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation are two major steps towards closing the ewealth gap and creating a lasting impact on the entire HBCU and MSI ecosystem,” Smith added, according to Black News.
Among other things, Black News reports that the organization will supply funding for students to students at historically Black institutions as a way to divert Black students from costly loans with high interest rates. Instead of paying back their grants, Black News reports that students will “pay it forward” to the next generation of Student Freedom Initiative scholars. Also, the program will reportedly work with Cisco and AVC Technologies/Computex to provide technology infrastructure upgrades at select at HBCUs. Lastly, students will have access to additional job hunting resources and internship opportunities through Smith’s InternX program.
Black News reports that the Student Freedom Initiative has already connected with prestigious institutions like Norfolk State University, Shaw University, Bowie State University, Fisk Universities and several other HBCUs. Moving forward, Harvey and Smith hope to expand the program to even more schools.
“Access to quality, affordable higher education is one of the most important steps our community can take towards achieving racial equity,” Harvey told Black News.
“We look forward to other partners joining us in supporting what started with Morehouse College, but now encompasses the totality of the ecosystem who seek to achieve an enduring, scalable solution,” Smith added.