Investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith is building on his legacy of service with a $1.5 million endowment to Atlanta’s Morehouse College that will fund scholarships as well as a park that will serve as a new outdoor study area for students.
Morehouse, which will launch the creation of the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program, announced the gift earlier this month. One million dollars of Smith’s donation will go toward the new program, according to a news release.
“Robert F. Smith’s donation of $1 million for student scholarships will have profound impact on the lives of deserving young men who have the desire to attend Morehouse College, but lack the resources,” Morehouse President David A. Thomas said in a statement.
“We appreciate his generosity and his investment in a generation of students who will follow in his footsteps as global leaders and entrepreneurs,” he added.
As the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, Smith has cemented himself as one of the nation’s most prominent and successful Black investors. The former Goldman Sachs banker launched Vista in 2000, and the private firm is now a global leader in software and technology investments, overseeing a portfolio of over 60 software companies.
Moreover, Smith ranks No. 226 on Forbes’ 400 richest list and boasts a net worth of $3.3 billion while his firm ranks No. 1 on the 2018 Black Enterprise “BE 100s” list of private, Black-owned equity firms. The CEO also became $3 billion dollars richer in September after selling a cloud-service company he purchased in 2016 to Adobe for $4.7 billion.
Though known for his entrepreneurial prowess, Smith is equally celebrated for his generosity and willingness to give back. According to the release, he was the first Black business leader to sign “The Giving Pledge,” an initiative launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet in which wealthy individuals pledge more than half their wealth to various causes, including disaster relief and global education.
As part of his gift to Morehouse, Smith purchased a plot of land for $560,000 to develop a park on the HBCU’s campus. The new outdoor area, which students and alumni will have a part in naming, will be located next to the college’s Ray Charles Performing Arts Center.
Smith is a 2018 recipient of the Candle Award in Business and Philanthropy, Morehouse College’s most prestigious award for community service. He received the honor at the college’s 2018 “A Candle in the Dark” Gala, which benefits student scholarships.