Photo: Ricky Carioti
According to a statement released by Morehouse College, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith has donated $1.5 million to the all-male HBCU to help fund scholarships and a park that will give students a new outdoor study area.
The gift, Morehouse says, will launch the creation of the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program.
Smith, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, is considered one of the wealthiest Black entrepreneurs today. His company, which has an estimated $14 billion in capital, was listed as No. 1 on Black Enterprise’s annual list of the most successful black-owned companies. He’s also made Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, and in 2017 was named by Forbes as one of the 100 greatest living business minds.
So far, Smith is the largest private donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In addition, he was also the first African American business leader to sign “The Giving Pledge,” which is an initiative that was started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages wealth individuals to pledge to give more than half of their wealth to social causes and philanthropy.
“Robert F. Smith’s donation of $1 million for student scholarships will have a profound impact on the lives of deserving young men who have the desire to attend Morehouse College, but lack the resource,” Morehouse President David A. Thomas said. “We appreciate his generosity and his investment in a generation of students who will follow in his footsteps as global leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Aside from his most recent donation to the college, Smith also donated $560,000 to buy land for a park in Southwest Atlanta that is adjacent to the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on Morehouse’s campus. The college says it will engage student and alumni in both the design and the naming of the park.