Pharrell, Entrepreneurs

Paying It Forward: Recipients Of Pharrell’s Student Loan Gift Launch Nonprofit For HBCUs

The NAACP student leaders whose student loans were wiped out by Pharrell Williams intend to give back.

The recipients of Pharrell Williams’ student loan forgiveness gift are paying it forward with their new nonprofit. The Cash In Grad Out Foundation hopes to aid HBCU students while helping to resolve the student debt crisis.

Williams wiped the student loans of five NAACP student leaders during Juneteenth weekend. Robyn Hughes, Damarius Davis, Jamie Turner, Channing Hill, and Davan Vilfrard accepted the reward for their work and advocacy. The producer forgave their loans during the start of his Something in the Water Festival.

Now, they are working toward giving back in the same effort as Williams. The Cash In Grad Out Foundation announced its mission in a post on Feb. 27, stating the entertainer’s move “inspired” them.

“The Cash In Grad Out Foundation, Inc. is proud to announce our commitment to the advancement and development of HBCU students and graduates through our work to find a solution to the student debt crisis that disproportionately affects HBCU graduates,” explained the caption. “After that fateful Juneteenth weekend where @pharrell and the @somethinginthewater team paid off our loans, we wanted to give back to the institutions [designed] to support the advancement of Black professionals. What started as a simple conversation is now a full fledged organization. Follow us on our journey and see what we have in store for the world.”

Financial literacy is another important element, as they aspire to teach students about the complexities of obtaining student loans. Vilfrard spoke of the need to “caution” students as the Biden administration lags in loan forgiveness.

“After President Biden’s recent actions impacting older student debt, it is becoming clear that younger graduates will see little to no sweeping debt relief for some time, if ever,” shared the Florida A&M student and CEO of the foundation. “We need to caution students about the perils of debt while doing our best to free people from the burdens of debt.”

The group’s call to action remains a serious commitment as they intend to further connect with students. Their journey also features a 15-stop tour across multiple HBCUs, starting this summer. Collaborations in the works include the NAACP, The Transformative Justice Coalition, and Williams’ Something In The Water Festival.

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