François Acosta is a dynamic leader with years of experience in education and government relations. Prior to joining NUF, François served as the Head of Partnerships for Chipper, a fintech start up that works to help student borrowers rapidly eliminate their student loan debt through forgiveness and optimized repayment options. At Chipper, he worked to drive growth with large urban school districts, universities, and nonprofit organizations across the United States. He designed and led campaigns that informed student borrowers of policy changes regarding the student loan forgiveness programs for eligible workers within the public sector. This experience informed him of the financial obstacles many students of color are burdened by when pursuing a higher education. This has fueled him to influence policies that place those from marginalized communities at the forefront. Ultimately, the work of Francois’ life is to uplift and empower the next generation of leaders in his community to fight for policy change to create an equitable environment where members of his community can thrive and advance politically and economically.
François studied Political Science at Daemen College before making the transition to Syracuse University (SU) where he deepened his understanding of public policy and graduated with cum laude distinction. While at SU, he became a member of the National Political Science Honor Society, Phi Sigma Alpha. During his last semester, François opted to move to Albany to intern for former Assemblyman and Vice Chair of the DNC, Michael Blake. In that role, François learned the influence state politics has in the actual policy making process. During his time in Albany, François studied hot button policy issues that centered around bail reform and increased state funding for K-12 education and mental health initiatives. François was able to gain valuable insight into the challenges people face and the policy response from the state level to ameliorate those issues within communities of color.
Upon graduating, François felt the need to elevate and transcend the impact he had on his peers directly to his community by serving as a board member of Youth Action Youth Build (East Harlem), a community-based organization that works to break the cycle of poverty by providing alternative pathways for career and educational development. For years, he witnessed entire generations be pushed to the margins of society, living on the outskirts of the economic, social, and cultural mainstream. He is determined to make a difference for those he shares a similar background with. He worked to support programming and additional funding to ensure students from his community have the resources they need to pursue careers.
Francois plans to contribute to a network of fellows that are committed to reimagining and actively implementing programs and policies that advance communities of color. I want to collaborate with leaders that prioritize diversity within their lives because they view it as a key ingredient in our effort to create a brighter, more productive, and more inclusive future. The fellowship will provide the framework and resources needed to double down on my commitment to diversity and ultimately impel others to do more than remain nominally committed to the advancement of people of color. Institutions continually face legal and political challenges to affirmative action and the advancement of DEI initiatives now more than ever before. Therefore, it is critical that he imparts his expertise from the program and strategically position himself to serve his community in a transformational way.