Robert F. Smith’s
Pillars of Philanthropy
By supporting organizations that promote racial equity and education reform, business leader Robert F. Smith has devoted his philanthropic efforts to create widespread opportunity for underserved communities and uplift the human spirit.
“If you can, liberate a human spirit through providing education, providing an opportunity, providing in many cases a pathway to a way that they can support their family or their community.”
-Robert F. Smith
The Ongoing Fight for Racial Equity
Fund II Foundation
Since its creation in 2014, Fund II Foundation has provided almost $250 million to organizations like the United Negro College Fund, NPower and The Opportunity Network.
The Power of Scholastic Equity and Education Reform
Providing young people with a quality education is one of the best ways to conquer the opportunity deserts that can exist in many minority communities.
Smith has made numerous contributions to educational causes, including his donation to the Morehouse College Class of 2019. The gift, which totaled more than $40 million, relieved the nearly 400 graduates and their parents of their entire student debt load.
“As the son of educators, equal access to quality education has always been a core tenet of my life.”
-Robert F. Smith
Finding Space to Breathe and Grow by Preserving the Environment
Environmental preservation and promotion of outdoor activity are vital areas of focus for Smith’s philanthropy. His contributions to the following organizations are designed to support an accessible and healthy planet for future generations:
Promoting access to the outdoors for underserved youth is a key focus of Smith’s philanthropy, such as with participants of the Lincoln Hills Cares Equestrian program.
Inspiring the Next Generation of Talent with Inclusive Arts
Another focal point of Smith’s donations is to increase and promote participation in the arts, especially in communities of color. To achieve greater diversity within the field, Smith donated $250,000 to the Sphinx Organization, a non-profit that aims to transform the lives of underserved students through music and art. Fund II Foundation also donated $3 million to the organization in 2019.
Smith also currently serves as Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees, becoming the first African American to hold the post after being appointed in 2016. Since Smith joined, Carnegie Hall has undertaken initiatives, like PlayUSA, which partners with orchestras and other organizations to provide low-income students with instruments.
The Sphinx Organization has invested over $4.5 million in artist grants and scholarships, and has over 800 alumni. (Photo courtesy Sphinx Organization – By Doug Coombe)
Saving Our Stories By Preserving Black History
Smith also wants to ensure that the history of Black culture is not forgotten among future generations.
In 2016, Smith donated $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. That year, the Museum created the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center, where visitors are taught how to research their family genealogy through online databases.
Smith also serves as an executive producer of the Webby award-winning video podcast “Black History in Two Minutes (or so),” which discusses major historical events, recent news and more in short episodes accessible to viewers of all age levels.
Smith acts as an executive producer for Black History in Two Minutes (or So), an award-winning podcast that explains historical events in an easily understandable manner.
The Power of Black Philanthropy
While each individual’s or organization’s philanthropic efforts vary, the widespread nature of Smith’s donations and commitments – and his focus on uplifting the Black community – place him in a unique position to make an impact.
As a Black philanthropist, and the first African American to sign the Giving Pledge in 2017, Smith has had an opportunity to impact underserved communities and donate to organizations that have been historically overlooked by the traditional establishment, such as HBCUs.
“I am privileged to join the Giving Pledge with a commitment to invest half my net worth — during my lifetime — to causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans, as well as causes that cultivate ecological protection to ensure a livable planet for future generations.”
-Robert F. Smith