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Billionaire Philanthropist Robert Smith Donates $50M to HBCUs

The billionaire philanthropist who last year paid off the student loans of Morehouse Colleges’ graduating class, only to find himself under scrutiny for hiding funds in overseas accounts, has returned to investing in the education of future Black leaders.

Robert F. Smith, Vista Equity Partners CEO and chair, is continuing his support of historically Black colleges and universities with a $50 million donation to the Student Freedom Initiative, which offers students income to help offset the high cost aligned with loans, Black Enterprise reported.

“Each year, thousands of Black graduates from HBCUs across America enter the workforce with a crushing debt burden that stunts future decisions and prevents opportunities and choices,” Smith said in a statement. “A college education should empower and prepare our next generation for a limitless future. The Student Freedom Initiative is a culmination of work that followed my gift to the Morehouse College Class of 2019. The $1.6 trillion student debt crisis in our country is a human rights crisis.”

In addition to helping students at Morehouse, Smith in 2016 donated $50 million to the Cornell Engineering School and $20 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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