Robert F. Smith is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with over $46 billion in assets. The firm invests in data, software, and technology companies and is one of the most successful private equity funds of its kind.
Robert is the richest black man in the United States with an estimated net worth of $5 billion in 2019, about twice that of the most famous black billionaire, Oprah Winfrey. In 2017, Forbes named him as one of the 100 greatest living business minds.
In May 2019, during his speech at Morehouse College’s commencent ceremony, he announced that, along with his family, he created a grant to pay off the student loans of the entire graduating class. This is the biggest donation in the university’s history, an estimated $40 million.
“Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward,” he said in his discourse, as reported by CNN. “I want my class to look at these [alumni]—these beautiful Morehouse brothers—and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”
Robert’s philanthropic efforts have extended been felt by many throughout the nation. In 2014, he founded the Fund II Foundation, which has provided over $150 million in grants to charities. In 2016, donated $50 million to Cornell University, his alma mater, to support engineering programs that are geared towards women and people of color.
In 2017, he signed the Giving Pledge to donate the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes, becoming the first African-American to do so. That same year, he was named as one of the Philanthropy 50 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2018, he gave several million in funds towards breast cancer in black women and prostrate cancer treatment for black men.
He has been given several honours and awards for his charitable works, including the International Medical Corps Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Chairman’s Award, the Candle in Business and Philanthropy Award from Morehouse College, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Robert Toigo Foundation and the Ripple of Hope Award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, among others.
He has also received honorary doctorates from Morehouse College and American University’s School of International Service.Tags: Diversity and Inclusion, Investment and Funding, philanthropy, private equity