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BLM Announces Plan to Send Payments to Black Students and Alumni Who Have College Debt

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The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation launched a new relief fund Monday aimed at black college students, alumni and dropouts with student loans or student loan debts.

The foundation said it set aside $500,000 for the fund and plans to award more than 500 recipients with relief payments ranging from $750 to $4,500. A public application process for the fund opened on Monday, and recipients will receive their money in January if selected. Details about the fund were shared with The Associated Press ahead of the launch.

The BLM foundation’s Student Solidarity Fund is an expansion of a previous initiative it started last year as millions of Americans struggled to make ends meet amid economic uncertainty in the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fact of the matter is that black people who work to get an education are struggling right now,” BLM foundation board chair Cicley Gay said.

The relief is meant for bachelor’s degree recipients, as well as those who did not complete their degree but still carry student loan debt. Applicants must have attended a college or university in the U.S. The foundation is asking applicants to submit loan documents to prove their eligibility.

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If selected, applicants with $75,000 or less in debt will receive $1,500. Applicants with debt between $75,001 and $150,000 will receive $3,000. And applicants with $150,001 or more in debt will receive $4,500.

The money is not restricted for use only on student loan payments, but the foundation said its relief funds are meant to lower recipients’ overall debt burden.

In a second phase of the fund, the BLM foundation said it will give micro-grants of $750 to relief fund applicants who are currently attending historically black colleges and universities, to help with housing, food, technology, books and transportation costs.

Foundation board secretary Shalomyah Bowers, who runs the consulting firm that the movement organization hired to build out its philanthropic capacity, said Student Solidarity Fund applicants do not have to prove they are black. But fund administrators will be working to weed out scammers.

Should the government pay off student loan debt?

The relief fund comes less than two weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Biden administration can proceed with a plan to broadly cancel student loans. In August, President Joe Biden said the government would forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for Americans with annual incomes below $125,000 and would cancel up to $20,000 for recipients of the Pell Grant.

More than 26 million people had already applied for the relief, with 16 million approved. But the government stopped processing applications in November after a federal judge in Texas struck down the plan. Conservative attorneys and Republican lawmakers are challenging the legality of the debt forgiveness plan on an argument that Biden cannot take this step without congressional approval.

A high court ruling is expected by early summer.

“We could sit around and wait, and hope that legislators do what they promised by providing loan relief, or we could step up and do it ourselves. And we’ve decided to do the latter,” Gay said.

Earlier this year, the foundation revealed in a nonprofit tax filing that it had nearly $42 million in net assets at the end of the last fiscal year.

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The tax filing also showed the foundation spent nearly $6 million on a Los Angeles-area property that includes a home with six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage and office space. The property is intended as a campus for a black artists fellowship, the foundation said.

The financial revelations set off a fresh wave of criticism from the left and right in the political world and from both inside and outside of the broader BLM movement. Several months after the disclosures, the foundation’s structure remains the same. It is run by a three-member board of directors, including Gay and Bowers.

In August, a group of local chapters and activists known as BLM Grassroots filed a lawsuit in a California Superior Court against Bowers. The suit alleges that he and his consulting firm broke an agreement to turn over control of the foundation’s digital assets and its finances to the grassroots organizers of BLM, allowing him to profit personally and professionally from the surge in donations.

Bowers told the AP the allegations are “frivolous” and untrue. An attorney for the foundation last week filed a court motion asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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