The University of California, Riverside, on August 23rd, 2022 was selected to participate in the Student Freedom Initiative program as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI). UCR joins 13 other institutions that were added in this round of selections, increasing the total number from 20 to 34 institutions across 18 States. Previously, UCR had received notable recognition for high social mobility, including being ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for social mobility by U.S. News and World Report.
The Student Freedom Initiative acts as a single-purpose, nonprofit organization that aims to reduce the wealth gap in the field of education. An income-contingent funding option and multiple support services are provided by the program to tackle the inequities faced by minority populations when paying for college and to offer a sustainable, scalable platform to invest in future leaders. Rising tuition costs, high-cost loans, and other historical barriers to entry all limit opportunities for students to pursue their educational paths. But through participation in the program, universities can offer their marginalized students more opportunities for internships and industry-driven certifications, and provide them with tutoring or mentoring services.
Kim A. Wilcox, chancellor of UC Riverside, commented on this selection expressing, “As a leader in social mobility, UC Riverside continues to seek innovative approaches for increasing economic opportunity and resilience for our students. The core values of the Student Freedom Initiative align well with our goals as a research university.”
The program builds on its collaborative, holistic approach to increase students’ economic and social mobility by expanding from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to now including Hispanic Serving Institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. UCR, along with City University of NY (CUNY) Hunter College, and California State University Long Beach (CSULB) serve as the first institutions to expand the Student Freedom Initiative’s programming to meet the needs of these minority populations.
“We are excited by the 149% increase in students who will benefit from Student Freedom Initiative’s programs, ” explained Robert F. Smith, founder and board chairman of Student Freedom Initiative, and founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, “This is remarkable growth since we first started this journey with nine participating HBCUs. Our team has remained true to our original vision to provide educational and professional opportunities to first-generation, low-income students. Thanks to the success of Student Freedom Initiative’s partnerships with HBCUs and to further drive diversification across industries, we made a decision that this cohort needed to include Hispanic Serving Institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions to truly be an organization dedicated to inclusive growth.”