Education Leaders are shaping the way we learn, teach, and think about our human potential and the world at large. These leaders possess a deep understanding of the transformative power of education and are committed to creating opportunities for students to thrive academically, professionally, and individually. Their dedication to educational equity and their ability to inspire and empower students have reshaped the landscape of education and opened doors for countless individuals to achieve their dreams.
Among the ranks of these visionary Education Leaders stands Claudia Freed, the CEO of EALgreen. Through her visionary leadership, Claudia Freed has transformed EALgreen into a catalyst for change in the education system. Her commitment to educational equity, innovative strategies, and unwavering determination has empowered countless students to overcome financial barriers and pursue their dreams. Claudia’s remarkable story and tireless efforts to create a brighter future for students make her a shining example of a visionary Education Leader whose impact reverberates far beyond the confines of the classroom.
Education and Empowerment
Claudia Freed was born and raised in a small town in Argentina. Growing up as the second of four daughters in a family of educators, she was curious and fearless. As a teenager, Claudia Freed boldly decided to become an exchange student, despite not knowing English. Her desire to learn the language and immerse herself in a new culture led her to travel to the United States.
During her exchange student experience, Claudia’s American host family welcomed her with open arms. Impressed by her enthusiasm and determination, they invited her to return to the USA to attend college. Fueled by the love and support of her family, Claudia Freed bid farewell to Argentina and embraced a new chapter in her life in the Midwest during the early 1980s. As an immigrant and a woman, Claudia Freed sincerely appreciated the opportunities education could provide. She pursued a college degree in Economics at North Park University and encountered a groundbreaking scholarship concept that would shape her future. With this innovative scholarship’s assistance, Claudia Freed could fund her education and obtain her degree.
The transformative power of education left a profound impact on Claudia’s life. Inspired by her journey and the support she received, she felt a strong calling to give back and make a difference. This calling led her to become the CEO of EALgreen, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students financially.
Empowering Lives Through Education
Claudia Freed believes in the power of education to create opportunities for individuals. Recognizing that access to education improves various aspects of a person’s life, such as earning potential, health, purpose, and community engagement, Claudia Freed was driven to make a difference in this field. Her passion for education was cultivated from a young age, growing up in a family that deeply valued its importance.
Claudia Freed heard stories about her grandfather, who led a group of public school administrators in rural Argentina, working to ensure the quality of education through audits in the early 1900s. Additionally, her father, a college professor in Pedagogy, authored books on the psychology of young students in early education. However, Claudia’s father’s untimely death at 42 profoundly impacted her life, reinforcing her commitment to making quality education accessible to many.
Not having advanced degrees in education, Claudia Freed faced initial challenges in gaining acceptance and credibility within a community that often prioritizes academic credentials. Her formal education consisted of a bachelor’s degree in economics. However, she quickly realized that her experience, and the success of EALgreen as a catalyst for education affordability and innovation positioned her to lead educational efforts that could have a transformative impact on people’s lives. With EALgreen’s success, Claudia has the opportunity to drive change and create educational opportunities with equal or more significant impact than traditional classroom teachings.
EALgreen, or Educational Assistance Ltd., was established in 1982 by two visionary entrepreneurs who experienced firsthand the life-changing impact of scholarships in their educational journeys. Guided by a mission to create a better world through education, EALgreen offers a unique business model that drives innovation and challenges the limitations of traditional approaches to college funding.
The organization firmly believes that the cost of education should not be a barrier to realizing human potential. EALgreen’s innovative business model empowers colleges and universities to lower operating costs by accepting excess, surplus, and overstock products and inventory donations.
These donated items help colleges and universities reduce their operating expenses and ensure that valuable resources are not wasted. By diverting potential waste from landfills, EALgreen aligns with and exemplifies the principles of the Circular Economy, contributing to the responsible consumption of resources and promoting environmental sustainability (SDG#12).
In return for the operational savings facilitated by these donated items, participating colleges, and universities are committed to applying those savings as scholarships for students facing significant financial need. This approach enables institutions to redirect their resources and support students who would otherwise struggle to afford the total cost of their education.
By embracing this innovative model, EALgreen has inspired thousands of college administrators to pursue educational innovation and collaboration. EALgreen offers a fresh approach to educational models by leveraging win-win partnerships that optimize resources.
By fostering collaboration between educational institutions, donors, and students, EALgreen effectively combines the principles of financial aid and sustainability, ensuring that both educational opportunities and environmental responsibility are upheld.
EALgreen, driven by its commitment to risk management and student support, successfully navigated the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the organization had already implemented plans, reflecting its dedication to preparedness.
Technology in Education
Technology has played a pivotal role in shaping modern education, bringing about significant changes across various aspects of society. While the most evident impact of technology in education lies in facilitating remote learning, Claudia Freed believes its influence extends far beyond that. She asserts that technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), is revolutionizing education in two crucial ways: content generation and research.
AI-powered tools like ChatGPT and its subsequent iterations have transformed the landscape of content generation. Traditional concepts of authorship governed by ethical considerations have been challenged as technology allows for sharing content from diverse and sometimes anonymous sources. This shift presents new opportunities and challenges regarding the authenticity and reliability of educational content.
Moreover, technology is reshaping the research and development landscape in academia. Previously, academic institutions held the primary responsibility for generating ideas and prototypes. However, with the emergence of AI and data-driven approaches, corporations and governments invest substantial resources into discovering innovative ways to collect and utilize data.
This transformative phenomenon will likely impact academia profoundly, emphasizing the importance of individuals equipped with critical thinking skills fostered through formal education.
EALgreen, with its commitment to diversity and inclusion, prioritizes financial need as the sole criterion for selecting scholarship recipients. While the organization does not directly identify students for financial aid, it collaborates with the financial aid departments of partner educational institutions, which adhere to specific mandates.
As a result, EALgreen scholarships are accessible at participating institutions to all students pursuing a full or part time degree or certification program, inclusive of all ages, ethnicities, gender identities and religious backgrounds. The inclusive nature of the EALgreen model ensures that anyone who meets the academic requirements at their respective college or university is eligible to benefit from the program.
This approach to inclusivity has been integral to EALgreen’s success over the past four decades. The organization fosters an inclusive educational environment by embracing diversity and providing equal opportunities to students from all walks of life. Furthermore, as a Latina CEO, Claudia Freed recognizes the significance of being a role model for students both on and off campus.
Critical Skills for Modern Workforce
In the ever-changing work landscape, Claudia Freed emphasizes the importance of certain critical skills for students to succeed in the modern workforce. While the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted educational institutions to adapt to various learning environments, the fundamental purpose of formal education remains constant: to empower individuals to reach their full potential.
Claudia Freed believes that the core values of a formal education lie in developing critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities grounded in logic, the capacity to generate innovative solutions and concepts, effective communication within diverse teams, and the ability to form deep and meaningful human relationships.
These essential skills serve as the foundation for success in the workplace, enabling individuals to navigate complex challenges and adapt to evolving demands, especially in the context of rapid development of AI and automation technology.
While the future of work is adapting to take a more dynamic shape, it becomes ever more critical to focus on core human values that build resilience, flexibility, and inclusivity in our communities.
The two major streams in education namely the Liberal Arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) are, in their own unique ways, taking significant strides towards building this strong foundation to face the challenges of the modern times.
More recently, the inclusion of the Arts in education has expanded the acronym to “STEAM”, acknowledging the valuable contributions of artistic and creative thinking in fostering well-rounded individuals who look to make their own impact in the world.
Challenges and Empowerment
From Claudia’s perspective, one of education’s most significant challenges is the escalating cost structure. The mounting levels of student debt, particularly in the United States, have reached unsustainable levels, hindering access to higher education and posing a serious obstacle for millions of young individuals.
This challenge is exacerbated by gender inequality, where women and girls in some countries face limited opportunities compared to their male counterparts. Addressing this issue requires comprehensive education financing reform to improve access and affordability for all.
At EALgreen, the success of its education programs and initiatives is measured by the transformative impact on students’ lives. Its primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is the number of students empowered through scholarships each year. With the generous support of donors, EALgreen has provided scholarships to over 20,000 students pursuing diverse academic disciplines. As these scholars graduate and enter the workforce, they contribute positively to their communities, spanning various sectors such as business, arts, and civic engagement.
A Vision of Inclusion
In a world driven by a passion for equitable education, Claudia Freed envisions a future where everyone can learn, irrespective of financial limitations. By reimagining the funding structure of formal education, Claudia seeks to break the chains of economic barriers and uplift lives from the grasp of poverty. Her vision aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4, aiming to achieve quality education for all.
Claudia’s journey begins with a call for collective action. Recognizing that no single entity can bring about the necessary change alone, she fosters collaborations among educational institutions, policymakers, and philanthropic organizations. Through pooling resources and exploring innovative financing models, Claudia Freed aims to create an ecosystem that makes education affordable and accessible.
As Claudia’s vision gains traction, it fuels a global movement. Communities, educators, and students rally together, driven by the belief that education should be a fundamental right rather than a privilege. Governments and institutions join the cause, gradually dismantling the financial constraints that hinder educational opportunities. In this transformed landscape, education becomes a powerful catalyst for social and economic progress, empowering individuals and paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.
Alleviating Financial Burdens
Although EALgreen’s primary focus does not directly involve parents or families, the impact of their efforts on student outcomes is profound. Countless expressions of gratitude in the form of Thank You letters testify to the transformative influence of EALgreen’s work on students and their families.
Research reveals that the weight of student debt can significantly hinder prospects, with an average repayment period of 21 years. EALgreen aims to mitigate this burden by reducing student debt, allowing graduates to attain financial independence more swiftly upon completing their education.
Resilience in the Face of the Pandemic
When the pandemic struck, EALgreen’s risk management strategy came into action, allowing the organization to avoid a shutdown. The seamless activation of its operational plan ensured that the organization remained fully functional, enabling its college partners to continue serving students and faculty on the campuses. This demonstrated the resilience of the EALgreen model and its ability to adapt and thrive even during difficult circumstances.
Looking ahead, EALgreen recognizes the importance of investing in technology to maintain operations during disasters and optimize and enhance efficiency. By leveraging technological advancements, the organization aims to streamline processes and further improve its ability to provide scholarships to students with financial needs.
EALgreen has been a trusted partner to college and university administrators for over four decades, recognizing that financial stress can significantly affect students’ and staff’s mental health and well-being. As a pioneer in creating new economic models that prioritize social impact alongside financial sustainability, EALgreen embodies a shared vision to help students thrive regardless of their ability to pay.
With a deep commitment to alleviating the burden of education costs, EALgreen opens doors of opportunity for students and their families, firmly believing that education holds the key to a brighter future for humanity.
Today, Claudia Freed remains passionate about the role education plays in transforming lives. She dedicates herself to paying forward the gift bestowed upon her four decades ago.
To learn more about EALgreen contact:
Call Claudia at 630-670-3321
“Guided by a mission to create a better world through education, EALgreen offers a unique business model that drives innovation and challenges the limitations of traditional approaches to college funding.”