Philanthropy

Robert F. Smith learned early on about the importance of giving back to his community from the example set by his parents, and ever since he has prioritized making a difference in the communities he lives and works. Since founding Vista Equity Partners and becoming one of the nation’s most successful business leaders, Smith has focused his personal charitable giving on educational and professional advancement of African Americans, other minorities and women. In particular, his philanthropy honors the sacrifices and contributions of generations before him who he says paved the way for his success.

He’s contributed to dozens of organizations and institutions, including Morehouse College, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Cornell University, Carnegie Hall, The Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, Lincoln Hills, Sphinx Organization, RFK Human Rights, among others. Smith also signed the Giving Pledge in 2017, agreeing to give away a majority of his wealth during his lifetime.

Fund II Foundation

Smith is the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, whose mission is to preserve the African American experience, safeguard human rights, provide music education, preserve the environment while promoting the benefits of the outdoors, and sustain critical American values such as entrepreneurship.

Preserving the cultural richness of the African American experience for future generations

The Fund II Foundation works to bring to life the African American experience for all people to broaden our understanding of American history and inspire future African American leaders. 

Safeguarding human dignity by empowering the voiceless and promoting human rights

Human rights should have no borders. Trafficking, homelessness, and injustices in one country impacts all of humanity. That is why the Fund II Foundation seeks to counteract human rights violations wherever they happen — at home and abroad. Fund II works from the bottom-up – through raising awareness, training, advocacy and legal support – and the top down – changing incentive structures, influencing money flows, and impacting policies.

Conserving the environment, promoting outdoor education, and providing the benefits of the great outdoors to people of all ages and backgrounds

Fund II is dedicated to protecting the environment, increasing knowledge of nature, expanding access to parks, and connecting young people to beneficial outdoor activities. Research has shown that there are numerous psychological and physical benefits of bringing people closer to nature.

Expanding access to music education in schools

Exposing young people to music and the arts at an early age can change lives. Fund II is helping to create a world where every kid has a channel for self-expression where they can learn more about the arts, as well as nourish their talent and soul. The discipline, commitment and inspiration music provides are at risk as music education is often cut from public school funding or is cost prohibitive due to the expense of lessons and instruments. We invest in music education to nurture talent and create dreams – it’s a powerful way to inspire our young people to elevate their lives and reach their goals.

Sustaining the American values of entrepreneurship, empowerment, innovation and security

Entrepreneurship, empowerment, innovation and security create the platform for all Americans to conceive and realize the American dream. We have harnessed technology to solve our most intractable problems, helped drive greater access to opportunity and information, and reignited the belief that with hard work and dedication, anyone can succeed. To sustain this momentum, and continue America’s leadership in the global knowledge economy, we seek to support programs that:

  • Bridge the digital divide by targeting technology training to vulnerable youth and veterans to help them find jobs 
  • Increase diversity in the STEM-based workforce
  • Raise awareness and build the thought leadership capacity to ensure sustainable policies and regulatory frameworks to continue America’s leadership in the technology revolution

internX

The InternX program, administered by the Fund II Foundation, is a paid internship program that helps match students of color to internship opportunities in everything from STEM and finance to business and marketing. InternX was created to benefit both employers and students by providing highly-qualified talent for employers and opportunities and skills training for young people.

Robert F. Smith at The Opportunity Network's Eighth Annual Night of Opportunity.

The most important thing you can do as a young person is to become an expert. There is no substitute for becoming the best at your craft.

– Robert F. Smith

Support For Educational and Learning Institutions

Robert F. Smith is an avid supporter for educational institutions and supporting education and learning organizations. 

Columbia Business School

Smith’s generous gift of $15 million to the Columbia Business School in 2017, helped the School secure its $500 million fundraising goal for its move to Manhattanville. The funds raised would allow for the School to obtain two new state-of-the-art buildings in the University’s Manhattanville Campus. Smith emphasized the important opportunities the move would create for the School, stating “I think the Manhattanville expansion will give us the opportunity to bring more of those world-class leaders into an environment that will be more conducive for them to teach, to train, and to educate.” When describing the impact of his gift, Smith shared his excitement for the students saying, “It’s going to mean a lot to students. I think the students will embrace the updated infrastructure. I think they will embrace the additional capacity, because I think we’ll be able to expand the depth, the breadth, and the diversity of the student body coming from all parts of the world, all different types of walks of life to participate in what will now be the movement of Columbia University, Columbia Business School, in this case, going forward.”

Cornell University

In 2016, Smith pledged $20 million to the chemical engineering school at Cornell University. In recognition of Smith’s contribution to the field and his connection with the university, Cornell named its chemical engineering school the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Smith also pledged an additional $10 million, creating the Robert Frederick Smith Tech Scholars Program, which invites African American and female high school seniors with financial need to pursue an undergraduate degree at the College of Engineering on Cornell’s Ithaca campus and then participate in a one-year technical master’s degree at Cornell Tech in New York City.

Morehouse College

During his commencement address at Morehouse College, a historically Black institution, Smith committed to paying off the student loan debt of the class of 2019 — a $34 million gift that helped nearly 400 graduates. Smith announced the donation saying that “on behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Robert F. Smith delivered his speech at the 135th Commencement at Morehouse College.
Robert F. Smith delivers the commencement speech at Morehouse College in 2019.

The President of Morehouse College, David A. Thomas called it a “liberation gift” and it would “be life-changing for our new Morehouse Men and their families.”  In addition, Smith pledged $1 million to Morehouse College to fund the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program, plus $560,000 to develop an outdoor study space for students.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Robert F. Smith poses in front of the Robert Frederick Smith Family Corona Pavilion.
Robert F. Smith poses in front of the “Robert Frederick Smith Family Corona Pavilion” of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Smith donated $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the largest by an individual donor to the museum at the time. His donation helped the museum bolster its digitization efforts, community outreach, and the curation of its collection.  In response to Smith’s contribution, the founding director of the museum Lonnie G. Bunch called him “a trailblazer in the world of finance and technology…and [his] gift exemplifies his commitment to increasing access to opportunity, recognizing the potential in each of us and his respect for our past.”

In addition, visitors will be able to chronicle and share their own personal narratives at the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center.  The center will focus on training the next generation of museum curators and ensure that the stories and contributions of all African Americans—not just the famous—will be conserved and accessible

And as part of the Robert F. Smith Internship Program, the museum is able to offer funding for interns to be onsite with the museum as well as at select African American museums, art galleries, and museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other cultural institutions and historic sites. These interns focus on work related to digital and media preservation and recording and preserving precious oral histories, among other preservation tasks.

The Student Freedom Initiative

Following Smith’s pledge to eliminate the student loan debt of the entire Morehouse Class of 2019, he helped launch the Student Freedom Initiative (SFI). SFI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), with an initial focus on juniors and seniors earning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees at 9 pilot Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Initially funded with a $50 million donation from the Fund II Foundation, Smith matched the donation in October 2020. The purpose of SFI is to help alleviate the burden of student debt that thousands of college graduates accrue every year. The elimination of crushing loan debt on young graduates will provide the freedom and the choice they need to achieve their full potential as they enter the workforce.

Use your skills, your knowledge, your instincts to serve – to go change the world in the way that only you can.

– Robert F. Smith

Support For the Arts

Robert F. Smith is an avid supporter of the arts, and has donated millions of dollars to preserve and expand access to arts, music, and more.  

Carnegie Hall

In 2016, Robert F. Smith was named the Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees, becoming the first African American to hold the post. Smith joined the Carnegie Hall board in 2013 and donated money to expand LinkUp, which creates free music education curriculum for elementary students and aims to reach 5 million students over the next 10 years. Smith is also a founding patron of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, which was created by Carnegie’s Weill Music Institute and brings young musicians from across the country together for a free multi-week tour of some of the greatest music capitals of the world. He also helped develop PlayUSA, a new initiative that partners with orchestras and organizations to get musical instruments in the hands of low-income and underserved students across the country and provide access to music instruction. 

In addition, the Fund II Foundation underwrote the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition’s first visit to the United States. Smith also personally arranged for appearances by Menuhin young violinists in Berlin, Germany, and in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum.

The Open Space Institute

Smith supported the Open Space Institute with a $1 million donation to upgrade and revitalize its Cultural Performance Center at the Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in Harlem, New York. A vital space to build community and offer social and recreational activities to those who live in and visit the area, the Cultural Performance Center needed a revamp of its lighting and sound equipment, as well as updates to the stage, seating, and flooring. The contribution was made as part of a 2018 capital campaign, and Smith’s gift was the largest by an individual donor during the campaign. In honor of the donation, the building was renamed the Robert Frederick Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Sphinx Organization

Smith, a longtime contributor to young musicians, contributed $250,000 in 2016 to the Sphinx Organization — a Detroit-based social justice nonprofit that helps transform lives through music and art. The contribution helped establish the Robert Frederick Smith Prize that awards the winners of the Senior Division of the Sphinx Competition with $50,000 to provide access to professional development and other resources that can help create on-ramps to careers in the classical music field. In bestowing this gift, Smith noted that “music is at the core of the African American and Latino cultural experience, and provides us with a language to inspire, uplift and empower our young people.” In 2019, the Fund II Foundation donated $3 million to the organization to support work to further bolster the organization’s work to provide leadership and career development programs and support SphinxConnect, an annual event that brings together musicians, arts leaders, educators, funders, diversity advocates, and administrators.

Robert F. Smith arranged for the Menuhin young violinists to perform at The Bode-Museum.
Robert F. Smith arranged for the Menuhin young violinists to perform in Berlin, Germany at The Bode-Museum. 

Create your own. Know your purpose. Be thoughtful and conscious about what is your highest and best use.

– Robert F. Smith

Support For Other Organizations

Beyond supporting the arts, Robert F. Smith donates to organizations and initiatives that better the lives of those in his communities, including: 

Giving Pledge

Robert F. Smith signed the Giving Pledge in 2017, becoming the first African American to do so. In signing the pledge, which commits signers to donate a majority of their net worth during their lifetime, Smith noted that his path was “paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African Americans whose names I will never know. Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward.” Smith committed to investing in causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans and support the protection of our planet.

Robert F. Smith attends a Code.org event.
Robert F. Smith is proud to collaborate with Code.org—preparing educators to teach computer science and broadening access to students who previously had no pathway to such resources.

The King Center

Under Robert F. Smith’s leadership, Fund II Foundation supported the purchase of Martin Luther King Jr.’s homestead to ensure its preservation through the Park Service. The Park Service will now not only preserve two of King’s former Atlanta homes, but it will record and share family memories, including contributions from his family, for generations to come.

REFORM Alliance

In 2019, Robert F. Smith joined the REFORM Alliance as a founding partner, contributing $5 million dollars to the organization’s efforts. It is a new nonprofit dedicated to helping millions of people on probation or parole, with a goal to drastically reduce the number of people on probation over the next five years.

Business Roundtable

As an at-large board member of the Business Roundtable, Robert. F. Smith contributes to many initiatives including, recently, the Special Committee for Racial Equity and Justice to help business owners address the state of race and inequality in America. 

Lincoln Hills Cares

Robert F. Smith founded Lincoln Hills Cares with Matthew Burkett to provide young adults and families who may not otherwise have the opportunity due to economic or family situations the ability to access Colorado’s great outdoors for education and recreation, cultural history exploration and workforce advancement. 

The focus of the Nizhoni Equestrian Program is to foster personal growth through equestrian experiences.

The Trail Foundation

With a 1.2 million dollar donation, Robert F. Smith is the leading sponsor of the Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue project in Austin, Texas to update the trail’s infrastructure and safety, providing visitors improved access to the scenic bat viewing area. 

“Thousands of us who are lucky to call Austin home, and the many visitors to this city, use the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake every single day. An investment in the Trail is an investment in Austin’s future — one that will keep our community’s most cherished outdoor asset safe, accessible and enjoyable for many years to come.”
– Robert F. Smith

Follow Robert F. Smith on social media for the latest on his work as a business and philanthropic leader.

Across our Communities

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

1. Provide technical expertise: offer subject matter and technical expertise to catalyze and support community initiatives 

E.g., tax/accounting experts to help MBEs file taxes

E.g., business experts to help MBEs better access capital and craft business plans to scale their teams and operations

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

2. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years

Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years

Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

3. Offer more paid internships: signup onto InternX and offer 25+ additional paid internships per year to HBCU/Black students 

Digital Access

4. Issue digital access equality bonds: issue equality progress bonds and invest proceeds into SCI’s digital access initiatives

5. Fund HBCU campus-wide internet – up to $50M in donations or in-kind: Partner with the Student Freedom Initiative to deliver campus-wide high-speed internet at ~10 HBCUs across SCI regions

Advocacy

6. Be an advocate for SCI priorities: engage federal and state agencies to drive policy and funding improvements to better support SCI’s near-term priorities

E.g., Engage the Small Business Administration and Minority Business Development Agency to increase technical assistance programs and annual spend to better support Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) with capital and scaling needs

E.g., Ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to include multi-dwelling unit connectivity in its new broadband connectivity maps and ask the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to allow non-FCC data in state broadband plans to unlock ~$285M in potential government broadband funding for 5 SCI regions

Directly Fund SCI

7. Invest directly into SCI (coming soon): provide funding for SCI to pool and invest in community initiatives that are most well-positioned for funding and can drive direct community impact.

Memphis, Tennessee

Lead community organization: The Collective Blueprint

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale technical assistance – $15M: fund* to expand technical assistance through business coaches and wrap-around services for 500+ MBEs over 5 years to help them scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

2. Standup MBE fund – $15M: standup/scale MBE fund* to offer more flexible access to capital arrangements 400-500 MBEs over 5 years

 * Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Community Unlimited, Women’s Business Center South, Epicenter, others

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.3x increase in MBE value & 20K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$3B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Provide loan guarantees – $15M: create a fund* to provide 80% loan guarantees over 5 years to encourage lender participation and inject more capital into the community

4. Conduct advocacy: ask US Treasury & Tennessee State to allow Tennessee CDFIs/MDIs to retain SSBCI capital & offer loan guarantees to boost loan issuance

5. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs** over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup a SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* Leading organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Community LIFT, Memphis CDFI Network, etc.

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Community Unlimited, Hope Credit Union, River City Capital, United Housing Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M+ in additional loans per year to support ~30K+ MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

6. Standup training hub – $30M: fund* the establishment a world-class training hub that offers certificate-granting STEM and innovation programs in advanced manufacturing, health care, etc. to 10K+ youths

7. Fund SFI program – $7M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus to support ~15 Black STEM students per year forever at 4 HBCUs**

* Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Greater Memphis Chamber and Workforce Midsouth

** Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs with STEM programs being considered: Le Moyne-Owen, Baptist Memorial, University of Memphis, Rust College

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 8K+ additional college graduates and 10K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1B+ in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

8. Accelerate digital access initiatives – $75M: partner with local orgs* to invest in setting up internet connections / installing hotspots, offering laptops and supporting adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~135K homes to high-speed internet in the Memphis region

9. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~135K unconnected households 

 * Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): CodeCrew

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~135K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$2B+ in economic potential

Houston, Texas

Lead community organization: Greater Houston Partnership

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale team – ~$3M: hire 3-4 FTEs over 5 years for One Houston Together* to help companies increase MBE spend from ~2% to 5-10%+ as well as BIPOC workforce advancement and BIPOC board representation 

2. Increase MBE certification and scale technical assistance – ~$2M: partner with One Houston Together* and the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HSMDC)** to certify additional MBEs, develop Minority Business Finder database tool and provide resources and services to help local MBEs scale and participate in Pathways to Excellence program

3. Commit to increase racial diversity in supply chain and procurement: increase MBE spend in Greater Houston region* to 5-10%+

* One Houston Together serves as lead (please contact if you are interested in funding these initiatives)

** Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HSMDC) serves as a partner organization (please contact if you are interested in learning more about this initiative)

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5x increase in MBE value & ~55K new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$12B 

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

4. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Unity National Bank, Unity Bank of Texas, PeopleFund, Houston Business Development Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

5. Fund SFI program – $120M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus* to support ~1.2K Black STEM students per year forever at 7 HBCUs**

* Student Freedom Initiative serves as lead (main contact if you are interested in learning more and funding this initiative)

** Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs with STEM programs being considered: Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Prairie View A&M University, Houston Baptist University, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, University of St Thomas.  

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 5K+ additional college grads & ~600 workers with senior exec positions / high-paying wages to drive ~$0.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Accelerate SCI’s digital access initiatives – up to $80M in donations or in-kind: invest in setting up internet connections / hotspots, offer laptops/Chromebooks and support adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~145K homes to high-speed internet in the Houston region*

7. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~145K unconnected households 

* Community organization(s) being identified 

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~145K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$3B in economic potential

Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

Lead community organization: Urban League of Louisiana

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale Black Business Works Fund – $10M: grow the Urban League of Louisiana’s Black Business Works Fund to support ~3K-4K MBEs over 5 years with emergency working capital needs to support/sustain ~$1B+ in annual revenues

2. Scale technical assistance – $20M: fund the Urban League of Louisiana, New Orleans Business Alliance, Thrive New Orleans and Propellor to scale bookkeeping, B2C payment, marketing support & subsidized rent to scale 200+ MBEs from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5x increase in MBE value & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT teams to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: New Orleans Business Alliance (community convener), Liberty, TruFund, LiftFund, NewCorp, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Subsidize internships & apprenticeships – $40M: fund the New Orleans Youth Alliance, YouthForce NOLA and the Urban League of Louisiana to place and help subsidize apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning experiences for ~20K young adults in high-pay sectors (e.g., energy)

5. Fund SFI program – $12M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus to support ~120 Black STEM students per year forever at 3 HBCUs*

* Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs being considered: Dillard University, Southern University – New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana

6. Scale career prep – ~$10M: scale the New Orleans Youth Alliance and YouthForce NOLA with 15-20 coaches over 5 years to equip ~20K young adults with skills for high-paying industries, job search & prep and subsidized transportation

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~2K additional college graduates and ~20K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

7. Accelerate SCI’s digital access initiatives – up to $35M in donations or in-kind: partner with New Orleans’s Office of Information Technology & Innovation and Education SuperHighway to invest in setting up internet connections / hotspots, offering laptops/Chromebook and supporting adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~55K homes to high-speed internet in Greater New Orleans region

8. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~55K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 55K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$1B in economic potential

Charlotte, North Carolina

Lead community organization: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Offer in-kind FTEs: provide 2-5 in-kind FTEs to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) over 5 years to convene corporate partners, assess their MBE spend, develop pipeline to increase MBE spend to 5-10%+

2. Offer technical assistance expertise: partner with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) to advise/mentor ~200 MBEs on capital/loan access to help them scale from <$10M to $50M+

3. Commit to supplier diversity: increase MBE spend in Charlotte region to 5-10%+

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in MBE value & ~13K new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

4. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance; in-kind experts to also help build out the MBE ecosystem through CDFIs/MDIs, market CDFI/MDI offerings and programs and help draft final loan agreements to qualify borrowers between investment fund(s) and CDFIs/MDIs

* CDFIs/MDIs being considered (examples and not exhaustive): Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, Self-Help Credit Union, BEFCOR, Aspire Community Capital, etc.

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

5. Fund SFI program – up to $10M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s HELPS program to support ~1.5K+ students per year at HBCUs* with emergency expenses – e.g., unexpected health costs, late rent payments, etc.

* Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs in Charlotte that are being considered: Johnson C. Smith University, Johnson & Wales University – Charlotte, Charlotte Christian College

6. Provide in-kind staff: offer 2-5 FTEs to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA)over 5 years to track Black-/Brown-executive representation, convene corporate partners to develop executive pipeline and hiring plans and support corporate partners to increase representation from ~10% to 30%+

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5K+ additional college graduates and 2.5K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$0.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

7. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~35K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Charlotte

Birmingham, Alabama

Lead community organization: Prosper Birmingham

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Fund startups and give access to investor network – $70M: grow the Prosper Health Tech Fund – powered by Gener8tor – and offer venture capital technical assistance to scale 50+ startups from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue; near-term priority is to secure $4M in venture investment by end of May 2022

2. Fund technical assistance – $25M: fund Prosper Birmingham, Magic City Match, and Birmingham Business Alliance to establish/expand business advisory programs, renovate and subsidize retail/office space for MBEs and scale coaches & support services (e.g., digital footprint, B2C platforms, accounting & bookkeeping, recruitment, etc.) to help 100+ MBEs scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in annual MBE revenue & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: First Bancshares, Commonwealth National Bank, TruFund, Sabre Finance, Bronze Valley, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Fund scholarships and hire coaches – ~$35M: scale Birmingham Promise fund to financially support 200-250 students per year over 4 years to increase college retention and graduation rates

5. Fund endowment – $2M: support 50 University of Alabama at Birmingham college students per year with housing to reduce their financial burden and increase college retention and graduation rates

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 6.5K+ additional college graduates & 35K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 48K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Jefferson County

Birmingham, Alabama

Lead community organization: Prosper Birmingham

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Fund startups and give access to investor network – $70M: grow the Prosper Health Tech Fund – powered by Gener8tor – and offer venture capital technical assistance to scale 50+ startups from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue; near-term priority is to secure $4M in venture investment by end of May 2022

2. Fund technical assistance – $25M: fund Prosper Birmingham, Magic City Match, and Birmingham Business Alliance to establish/expand business advisory programs, renovate and subsidize retail/office space for MBEs and scale coaches & support services (e.g., digital footprint, B2C platforms, accounting & bookkeeping, recruitment, etc.) to help 100+ MBEs scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in annual MBE revenue & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years

Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years

Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: First Bancshares, Commonwealth National Bank, TruFund, Sabre Finance, Bronze Valley, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Fund scholarships and hire coaches – ~$35M: scale Birmingham Promise fund to financially support 200-250 students per year over 4 years to increase college retention and graduation rates

5. Fund endowment – $2M: support 50 University of Alabama at Birmingham college students per year with housing to reduce their financial burden and increase college retention and graduation rates

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 6.5K+ additional college graduates & 35K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 48K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Jefferson County