During his commencement speech at Morehouse College for their graduating Class of 2019, Robert F. Smith does what no man has done before and announces that he will be paying 100% of everyone in their graduating class' Student Loan debt. The exact number is still to be determined but the bill for the Entrepreneur has been estimated to be in the 10's of millions of dollars, which in retrospect will not be too much of a dent in the Billionaire's pockets considering he is one of the wealthiest African-Americans on the face of the Earth.
Well, Who exactly is this Robert F. Smith and How can he afford to just up and pay the Student Loans of hundreds of students from one of the most costly HBCU's in the United States?
Born in Denver, Colorado, Robert F. Smith is the son of William and Sylvia Smith, both Ph.D. students in Education with prevalent impacts on their hometown community, helping out in every way they thought possible. From managing the local YMCA to writing checks every month to the United Negro College Fund, his parents were living examples of what some would call "Neighborhood Heroes." Growing up in the 1970s, America was very much still a segregated Country but was just beginning the era of desegregation. Doing things such as bringing he and his brother when they were merely boys to witness the once-in-a-lifetime scene of the March on Washington where Dr. King gave his infamous "I Have A Dream" speech is something you just can't put a price-tag on. Robert's parents played a very important role in his upbringing and instilled very key skills and values that allowed him to elevate into the mogul he is today.
Graduating with flying colors from Cornell University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Smith goes on to attend Columbia Business School. Here he continues to thrive and meets American Executive John Utendahl. Utendahl takes attention to Smith's outstanding academic achievements and one-of-a-kind problem-solving skills and introduces him to the world in which Robert F. Smith created the $5 billion fortune he sits on today, Investment Banking.
After accumulating millions of dollars in profit and working with some of the biggest names in the Investment Banking industry with companies like Goldman Sachs, Smith takes notice to a smaller investment company who has created a system that he thought to be the most efficient playbook in the world of Investment Banking. With both faith and trust, Smith collaborates with this particular company, gets the company's CEO to invest in his campaign, and innovated their system to where other companies can not only learn how to be more profitable but also plain out more efficient. By the name of VISTA EQUITY PARTNERS, at age 39, Robert F. Smith was now the CEO of one of the most profitable Equity systems in the world.
Going back to his childhood, Smith's parents raised a Man who knew that it was not only about He but about We. Over the years, Smith has found multiple ways to let his wealth spread and help the world in a plethora of different ways, shapes, and forms. Not only has he signed a giving pledge that contracts 50% of this wealth for Sociological purposes, but Smith also bought out the "Lincoln Hill" ranch in his hometown Denver, Colorado, which has very historical value. In the 1900s, Lincoln Hill was a place \]where with merely $25, African-Americans could buy a plot of land, build a cabin-house, and have a place to use for whatever reason they saw fit (Summer vacations, family get-a-ways, etc). This land was also used to house very influential faces such as Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes during their stay in Colorado due to the severity of the racial segregation during these times. Smith now owns the majority of this ranch and there sits a 16 bedroom Ranch house built to house people in need such as aging orphans and wounded veterans during the holiday seasons.
Investor, Philanthropist, and Businessman Robert F. Smith have lived the life that most people can only dream but in here lays a message we all can adhere to; never forget who you are or what you stand for. During an interview with David Rubenstein, Smith was asked the question "What is the greatest pleasure of your life?" and with an earnest tone, he replies "To liberate the human spirit; to be able to see a spirit be it's the greatest self is the greatest gift God can give." Smith's educated and humbled beginning has shaped his legacy and spreading the blessings all the way to Morehouse Class of 2019's graduates was the work of a Generational tycoon, his acts of kindness, as well as his philanthropic endeavors, WILL go down in history.