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Billionaire Robert Smith Launches $1.8M Program to Provide Microgrants to HBCU Students In Need

A Black billionaire philanthropist, with a history of relieving debt for students attending Historically Black colleges and Universities, has announced a new program that aims to provide almost $2 million in grant monies to students in the sciences.

Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO Vista Equity Partners speaks onstage at 2018 Reflections Of Excellence at Morehouse College on February 17, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

According to a press release, Robert F. Smith, founder and chairman of Vista Equity Partners, and his Student Freedom Initiative have partnered with Prudential Financial to launch the Handling Everyday Life Problems for Students Program. Through this collaboration with HBCUs, students can apply for $1.8 million worth of microgrants and paid internships and attend financial literacy workshops.

More than need-based, these grants are for students in high-risk situations or emergencies. The website defines an “emergency” circumstance as “an unexpected, one-time expense, associated with the immediate risk to health, life, property, or student’s environment that requires urgent attention to prevent worsening of the situation or further instability of the student’s situation.” 

A study done by the Federal Reserve noted that 40 percent of Americans would struggle to meet an emergency expense totaling $400.

These citizens, many of them African Americans, would have to ask for support from family members or friends or max out a credit card to fulfill the debt. This program seeks to provide a cushion to students that would otherwise be in an irreconcilable bind and possibly have to quit school.

These microgrants can be used for a bevy of things, including supplies for class and other unexpected expenses. 

Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.

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