Two key pillars of Robert F. Smith’s philanthropic actions are preserving Black History and protecting green space — including supporting the creation of new national parks and monuments.
Additionally, Smith has a long history of working towards social justice and racial equity. Working with organizations like the National Action Network, Smith is committed to furthering the preachings and efforts that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ultimately gave his life for.
In 2019, Smith and Fund II Foundation — which he is founding director and President of — collaborated with the National Park Foundation (NPF) to buy and preserve King’s childhood birth home and the home where he would eventually raise his own family. Both homes became a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia and are open to the public.
“A key component of Fund II Foundation’s mission is to bring African-American history to life and preserve it for generations,” said Robert F Smith, at the time of the donation to NPF. “This grant will help make it possible for all people to experience and learn first-hand about Dr. King’s legacy and the civil rights stories that are part of our shared American heritage.”
The birth home in particular has become a part of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”). A non profit organization which was established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, it has transformed over the years to become an, “energetically-engaged educational and social change institution.”
The center, in addition to overseeing King’s birth home and creating a vast campus in Atlanta, offers educational and training programs both online and in person. Part of the educational opportunities are “Beloved Community Talks,” which are a town hall style community event that brings together leaders, politicians, students, culture influencers and more to solve local issues.
Smith participated in one of these talks, virtually, in 2021 to discuss the importance of Black executives using their platforms to speak out for social change.
Some of the other efforts Smith has made to preserve Black history are donations to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in 2016 and a $20 million gift to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in the same year.
The latter of the gifts went to digitize museum records and establish internship and fellowship opportunities. In recognition of the donation the NMAAHC created the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center — allowing people to learn the basics of tracking African American genealogy and discover their families history.