Robert F Smith, philanthropist and founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners, is donating $50 million to the Student Freedom Initiative, of which he is chairman.

Student Freedom Initiative is a charity supporting students attending Minority Serving Institutions in the US.

The gift matches the initial funding of $50 million provided by the Fund II Foundation, announced in June.

Smith said: “Each year, thousands of black graduates from HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) across America enter the workforce with a crushing debt burden that stunts future decisions and prevents opportunities and choices.

“A college education should empower and prepare our next generation for a limitless future. The Student Freedom Initiative is a culmination of work that followed my gift to the Morehouse College class of 2019.

“The $1.6 trillion student debt crisis in our country is a human rights crisis. The initiative is purposefully built to redress historic economic and social inequities and to offer a sustainable, scalable platform to invest in the education of future black leaders.

“I urge others to join this important cause so that together we can liberate the human spirit.”

Date published: 26 October 2020

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