Robert F. Smith was recently honored as one of the world’s most influential people in the TIME100 list for 2020, an annual publication celebrating people with exceptional ideas, talent, and discoveries. With a biographical description written by famous American actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, Tony award-nominated actress Richardson Jackson, Smith is introduced as not just one of the greatest financial investors alive today, but as an expert for investing in people.
Recognizing Smith’s $34 million donation to the Morehouse College class of 2019, TIME100 celebrated his ongoing donations in higher education, including to Cornell and Columbia universities, his alma maters. Morehouse College’s president, David A. Thomas, described Smith’s contribution as a financial liberation for young students, and that it would forever change their lives and opportunities for growth.
Since founding Vista Equity Partners and developing into one of the country’s most recognized business leaders, Smith has dedicated himself to philanthropic causes and to securing educational opportunities for underserved youth. In particular, Smith is founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, which provides employers with highly qualified students of color through the Foundation’s competitive internship program, InternX. Additionally, the Foundation offers opportunities to learn about environmental conservation and techniques for self-expression through music.
Equipped with investment expertise and empathy as an entrepreneur, Smith believes that one of life’s biggest callings is the ability to give back and support others. He continues to support numerous philanthropies and initiatives across the United States, and early this year petitioned for Congress to devote $10 billion for organizations supporting investment in urban and lower-income rural areas. In 2017, The Chronicle of Philanthropy included Smith as one of their “Philanthropy 50,” recognizing his life-long pledge to support underserved communities, preserve the African American experience, and sustain crucial national values.