Yes, you read that right!
Morehouse College, an all male, historically Black university, held their commencement services for their class of 2019 today. Their speaker this year was Robert F. Smith. Smith is a Billionaire (with a B) technology investor and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. In 2018, Smith was recognized by Forbes as the wealthiest African American, beating out Oprah for the title.
Smith pledged $1.5 million dollars to the school but decided to raise the stakes for commencement. After receiving an honorary doctoral degree from Morehouse during the ceremony, Robert F. Smith pledged that his family will create a grant to clear the outstanding student loan debt for EVERY graduate in the class of 2019. The estimated total is about $40 MILLION dollars!
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“Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you get educated. Where you go to school shouldn’t determine whether you get textbooks. The opportunity you access should be determined by the fierceness of your intellect, the courage in your creativity and the grit that allows you to overcome expectations that weren’t set high enough.” #MorehouseGrad2019
Smith has faith that his good deed will ripple out into other good in the world. During his speech Smith said, “This is my class […] and I know my class will pay it this forward” as he referenced the class of 2019.
Smith is the also the first African American to sign the “Gates-Buffett Pledge”. The pledge encourages the wealthy to dedicate a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Smith’s net worth is about $5 billion dollars (you do the math).