The senior students at Morehouse College were surprised Sunday when billionaire investor Robert F. Smith announced during his graduation speech that he would repay the student loan debt for the historically black college graduation class.
"My family will create a grant to eliminate their student loans," he told the recent graduates in Atlanta.
The sum of more than 300 students adds up to approximately $ 40 million, Morehouse spokeswoman Aileen Dodd told CNN.
Smith on Sunday also received an honorary degree, along with actress Angela Bassett and psychologist Edmund Gordon.
The businessman, founder of the investment firm Vista Equity Partners, has an approximate value of $ 5 billion, according to Forbes.
The 56-year-old was a chemical engineer at Goodyear and Kraft before attending business school. He worked for Goldman Sachs, specializing in technology investments, before starting Vista Equity in 2000.
Vista Equity invests solely in software, data and technology companies and has capital commitments of $ 46 billion, according to the company's website.
Smith has a pretty generous streak. In 2016, Cornell University, one of its souls, changed the name of its chemical and biomolecular engineering school in honor of the investor from Austin, Texas, after it pledged to donate $ 50 million to the school. He has also donated millions for cancer research and the arts.
Its Fund II Foundation provides grants on five pillars: preserving the African-American experience, safeguarding human rights, conserving the environment, providing music education and sustaining "critical American values such as entrepreneurship," says the organization.
In 2017, Smith signed the Commitment to Give, an effort spearheaded by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to convince wealthy Americans to give away half of their fortunes.
By signing the pledge, Smith said he would focus on the causes that support equality for black Americans and the environment. His wife, model Hope Dworaczyk Smith, will focus on helping children, she wrote.
"I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know," said Smith. "Their struggles, their courage and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve, My story would only be possible in the United States, and it is up to us all to pay the inheritance onwards."