Today marks one month since the death of George Floyd, which has brought the longstanding inequities faced by African Americans and all people of color even more starkly into focus. Those inequities extend to higher education where, too often, minority and underserved students face significant obstacles that not only impede attendance, but also stifle completion of their post-secondary education program.
To help break down those barriers, The Sallie Mae Fund, the charitable arm of Sallie Mae, will contribute $4.5 million in scholarships and grants over the next three years to increase higher education access and completion among minority students and underserved communities and to support educational programs that advance social justice, diversity, inclusion, and equality.
“Systemic racism, discrimination, and oppression of African Americans and communities of color have gone on too long. It’s not enough to acknowledge that there’s a problem, or that inequities exist. We need to listen, and we need to act,” said Jon Witter, Chief Executive Officer, Sallie Mae.
“As a company with a foundation in education, we see first-hand how education opens doors, creates opportunities, and advances us as a people.
"Those doors and opportunities, however, should be open and available to all who seek to advance through higher learning. We commit to helping make that a reality and playing a part in creating a more just and equal society.”
Specifically, The Sallie Mae Fund, in partnership with The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, will launch new programs this fall to provide a total of $3 million in scholarships over the next three years to help minority students and underserved communities access higher education and complete their post-secondary education program.
“We are delighted that Sallie Mae has stepped up to help our nation's underserved students,” said Harry L. Williams, President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents 47 member-schools. “During these difficult and uncertain times, we applaud Sallie Mae for their ongoing commitment to education, social justice and equity.”
The Sallie Mae Fund also will contribute a total of $1.5 million over the next three years to support educational programs that advance social justice, diversity, inclusion, and equality. This year, grants of $125,000 each will go to Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Point Foundation to support the LGBTQ+ community, and the National Urban League. Also this year, The Sallie Mae Fund will back the Know Your Rights Camp founded by Colin Kaepernick through a $125,000 grant to its non-profit sponsor, the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
Witter continued, “Sallie Mae does not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind. My goal is to make Sallie Mae the most inclusive and just workplace in the country. There is much more that we can do to make a difference for our people and in our communities, and our actions will define us. This journey will be a movement, not a moment.”
Last week, the Sallie Mae team observed Juneteenth as a holiday so that they could take time to reflect on its significance.
For more information visit www.SallieMae.com.