Robert F. Smith, the richest Black man in America, wants to invest in HBCU students — by helping them invest in the stock market.
In 2019, Smith paid off the loan debt of graduating Morehouse College students and, later, their parents, a gift worth approximately $34 million, which Smith said was part of his personal mission of supporting the success of HBCU students.
A Denver, Colo., native who amassed his multibillion-dollar fortune in the private equity industry, Smith is now providing HBCU and minority serving institutions (MSI) students with knowledge and tools for financial wellness with his Student Investment Program.
The program will provide 500 HBCU and MSI students with $1,000 to invest and hands-on investment education to grow their stock market portfolios. The program is supported by Smith along with financial institutions Stackwell and Prudential.
“This program uniquely provides the tools, capital, education and community support necessary to equip the next generation to take control of their financial futures,” Smith, wrote in a statement announcing the program.
By addressing the largest economic disparity between Black and white Americans, the racial wealth gap, Smith intends to empower Black college students to take control of their financial futures. Currently, white households have 17 times the wealth of Black households in millennial and Gen Z populations.
“Increasing Black participation and representation in the financial markets is critical to addressing the historic economic and social inequities that have disproportionately impacted HBCU students for decades,” Trevor Rozier-Byrd, founder and CEO of Stackwell, said in a statement.
More than 43 HBCUs and MSIs will participate in the program, which will kick off in 2023.