Billionaire ‘Intruder’ Producer Robert F. Smith Vows To Pay Off Morehouse Grads’ Student Debt

Philanthropist Robert F. Smith delivered a life-changing commencement speech Sunday at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The billionaire businessman, who received an honorary degree from the historically black school, surprised the nearly 400 graduating seniors...

Philanthropist Robert F. Smith delivered a life-changing commencement speech Sunday at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The billionaire businessman, who received an honorary degree from the historically black school, surprised the nearly 400 graduating seniors by announcing his family would provide a grant to pay off student debt for the entire Class of 2019.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith said in a video posted on social media.

“This is my class,” he added, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”

The gift to the private, all-male school is said to be worth about $40 million. It comes in addition to a $1.5 million donation Smith gave Morehouse earlier this year for scholarships and a new park.

Some students told the Atlanta Journal Constitution they were graduating with around $90,000 in debt.

Smith is a Cornell grad, and has an MBA from Columbia University. He founded Vista Equity Partners, a software and technology investment firm, which has $46 billion in assets, according to its website.

He is the richest African-American in the United States, with a net worth of $5 billion, according to Forbes. This year he ranks #355 on the Forbes Billionaires List of the world’s richest people.

Smith has Hollywood ties as well after investing in Hidden Empire Film Group — which is run by Deon Taylor and Roxanne Avent. The film group’s recent releases include Meet the Blacks (2016), Traffik (2018), and The Intruder, a psychological thriller released on May 3. The film stars Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, and Dennis Quaid. To date, it has grossed $28 million domestically.

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