We’re seeing a demographic transformation across the country. For example, new U.S. Census data shows that dozens of counties are now less than 50% white, even though actual population size in these communities did not decrease. In these communities, no one racial or ethnic group makes up a majority. In fact, estimates show that a third of Americans, or 113 million people, live in “plurality counties,” which are counties that do not have a racial majority.
Robert F. Smith, argues that this new data reinforces the need to focus on education for diverse populations.
“Census data released last week is further proof of our country’s growing diversity, and therefore our national need to invest in education for diverse populations,” Smith said on Twitter. “The Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) is an easy way to do so.”
Increasing Education Opportunities for Diverse Students
Student Freedom Initiative, a brainchild of Smith’s for which he also serves as Chairman, is dedicated to ensuring freedom in professional and life choice for students attending Minority Serving Institutions. It first launched in 2021 at nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and was inspired by Smith’s gift to Morehouse College to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class.
As a catalyst for generational change, Student Freedom Initiative is playing a key role in investing in education for diverse students by focusing support on HBCUs and for thousands of Black students. For example, Student Freedom Initiative will offer flexible, lower-risk alternatives to high-interest private student loans to college seniors and juniors studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at its participating schools.
In addition, Smith recognizes that internships and apprenticeships are key parts of career advancement. For instance, nearly 65% of interns receive full-time offers from employers, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Fund II Foundation, of which Smith is the founding director and President, launched internXL — a program that matches students with top business and STEM companies for placement in well-paid internships. The program also creates on ramps for employers to connect with diverse students. The internXL paid internship program is also a part of Student Freedom Initiative, and adds to learning and career opportunities for HBCU students.
Learn more about how Robert F. Smith is empowering young people by creating pathways for students of color through the internXL program.