Founder and CEO of Vista Equity and black billionaire, Robert F. Smith donated $1.5 million to Morehouse College, according to a statement released by the school.
A million dollars of the money will go toward creating the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program. The remainder will be used to the design and creation of a park that will serve as a new outdoor study area for students.
“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 resources,” said Morehouse President David A. Thomas in the released statement. “We appreciate his generosity and his investment in a generation of students who will follow in his footsteps as global leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Smith is the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners. His company is No. 1 on the BE100s (Black Enterprise’s annual list of the most successful black-owned companies) Private Equity list with $14 billion in capital under management.
He was also named to the Forbes 400—the magazine’s annual list of the 400 richest Americans.
Heralded as a private equity titan and Wall Street wiz, Smith started his early life out as a computer geek and even interned at Bell Labs. Although he worked in the STEM field for some time after earning a degree in chemical engineering from Cornell, the financial world beckoned. He attended Columbia Business School and ended up at Goldman Sachs. He served as the co-chief of the investment banking division.
After Goldman Sachs’ IPO, Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, investing in technology companies. In 2013, Black Enterprise named the firm BE100s Financial Services Company of the Year and Smith as one of the Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street. Smith made a shrewd move in acquiring Sunquest Information Systems Inc. for a relative bargain price of $327 million–$200 million in equity and $127 million in debt.
In a recent transaction, a Vista Equity-acquired company, Marketo, was sold to Adobe for $4.7 billion. The acquisition was just one of many acquisitions made by Smith, who compiled mass wealth by buying companies in the technology space.
As per the Morehouse press release:
Smith is the largest private donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Recently, Smith also donated $560,000 to purchase land for and build a park in Southwest Atlanta. The new park will be adjacent to the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on the campus of Morehouse College. The College will engage students and alumni in the design and naming of the park.
Smith is a 2018 recipient of Morehouse College’s most prestigious award for community service. He received a Candle Award in Business and Philanthropy at the College’s 2018 “A Candle in the Dark” Gala, which benefits student scholarships.
Smith is the chairman of the Carnegie Hall Board of Trustees, and chairman of the board of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. He is also the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation, which is dedicated to safeguarding human rights, the environment, and sustaining critical American values.
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