From the creation of HBCU scholarship funds to projects designed to create pathways for youth in the STEM industry, philanthropist and businessman Robert F. Smith has been at the forefront of initiatives aimed at leveling the playing field in the realm of education. For his latest effort, the Vista Equity Partners founder is putting the focus on equipping scholars at historically Black colleges and universities with the tools needed to thrive financially.
Smith’s nonprofit, the Student Freedom Initiative, has teamed up with the investing platform Stackwell and Prudential to launch the Student Investment Program. Through the project, $500,000 will be distributed amongst scholars attending historically Black colleges and universities who are part of the Student Freedom Initiative community. Students will receive a $1,000 grant to add to their Stackwell investment account and will be provided with access to financial literacy-centered resources that will cover the ins and outs of money management and investing.
The initiative will kick off in 2023 with 43 HBCUs and other educational institutions that are part of the SFI ecosystem.
Smith says the mission behind the Student Investment Program is to address the widening racial wealth gap through financially empowering communities of color. “This program uniquely provides the tools, capital, education and community support necessary to equip the next generation to take control of their financial futures,” he shared in a statement. “This partnership with Stackwell and Prudential shows what the power of intentionality and collaboration can do to create long-term solutions to combat the racial wealth gap. Together, we can eliminate barriers to entry and drive greater representation of the Black community in the financial markets.”
Trevor Rozier-Byrd, founder and CEO of Stackwell, added “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.” Prudential’s Vice President of Inclusive Solutions Sarah Keh says the initiative is an extension of the company’s commitment to cultivating wealth-building opportunities for HBCU and MSI scholars.
This isn’t the first financial wellness-centered project that Smith has led. Last year, he joined forces with the digital money management company Goalsetter for an initiative dubbed One Stock. One Future. to provide Black and Latinx children with shares of stock at major corporations and access to culturally competent financial literacy tools.
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