As Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and the wealthiest African American man in America, Robert F. Smith is a national leader and critical voice. Outside of managing Vista Equity Partners, Smith focuses on philanthropic efforts to preserve African American history and culture in various settings.
Smith is the second-largest private donor to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, giving $20 million to the museum. Smith’s donation is used to digitize photographs, videos and music of African Americans across the nation — not just famous historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. or Frederick Douglass, but also those of everyday folks.
Smith co-founded Lincoln Hills Cares to make the outdoors accessible to the extended community, nonprofit partner groups and underserved youth populations in the Denver Metro area through outdoor education and exploration. Not only does Lincoln Hills house historical African American landmarks, the location also holds historical significance. Lincoln Hills opened in 1922 as the only western outdoor getaway accessible to African Americans during a time when most outdoor recreation in the U.S. was segregated or white only. Lincoln Hills Cares preserves the cultural significance of the site while introducing and educating the next generation of our nation’s leaders nearly a century later.
In addition to his work to preserve art and culture, Smith also founded and serves as President of the Fund II Foundation, a charitable organization that makes grants in various areas. One of the Foundation’s main grant making focuses is preserving the African American experience. This work aims to bring the African American experience to life for all people — deepening our understanding of American history while inspiring future leaders. As Brent Leggs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said, “Preservation contributes much to a forgetful or distracted society. It empowers black youth by revealing historical themes beside slavery, including entrepreneurship, civil rights, entertainment, sports, education, and political activism.”
In a moment that has brought racial injustice to the forefront of our national conversation, Smith is both advocating for and working toward meaningful reform to preserve and enhance African American history and culture.