ROBERT F. SMITH
Philanthropist Robert F. Smith, a proponent of preserving African American history and culture, is founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation. His relationship with the Museum dates back to a $3 million donation made by the Foundation in 2016 which enabled the digitization of the Museum’s expansive Armstrong archives. The grant also enabled the creation of two full-time fellowships for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs.)
Smith has contributed to other efforts to protect Black history and culture in America. In 2016, he donated $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His gift, like that to LAHM, went in part towards digitization of the museum’s archives.
Smith’s work with Fund II Foundation has resulted in donations to multiple education based organizations, including a $48 million grant to launch the United Negro College Fund’s STEM Scholar Program. Under Smith’s leadership, the foundation also created internX, a program that helps students from diverse backgrounds find paid internship opportunities at many leading companies in the STEM field.
Perhaps the most well known of his gifts is Smith’s pledge to pay the entirety of the Morehouse College Class of 2019’s student debt — a pledge that totaled $34 million. That decision would play a role in Smith’s mission to help the student debt crisis on a wider scale and the creation of Student Freedom Initiative. The initiative, for which Smith currently serves as Chairman, provides financial and academic resources to students at minority serving institutions and HBCUs.
Smith founded leading global investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista) in 2001 and continues to lead the firm as its Founder, Chairman and CEO. Vista invests exclusively in enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses.