Robert F. Smith is making a major investment in students at his alma mater, Cornell University. On Friday, the successful businessman and leading philanthropist announced that he will gift $15 million to Cornell’s College of Engineering to support underrepresented students.
The funds from this major financial gift will be focused on assisting undergraduate students who come to Cornell from underserved and underrepresented communities and graduate students who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Smith, founder, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners made the announcement after accepting The Cornell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes engineering alumni whose professional accomplishments bring distinction to the college.
“I am grateful to Robert for sharing our commitment to welcoming the most talented and promising students, regardless of background or ability to pay, and helping us ensure that cost never becomes an obstacle to a Cornell education,” University President Martha E. Pollack said according to The Cornell Chronicle.
A total of three funds will be created to aid students, The Robert F. Smith Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, Robert F. Smith Graduate Fellowship Fund, and Robert F. Smith Student Success Fund, according to an official release provided to ESSENCE.
The scholarship fund will provide at least seven undergraduates a year with up to $45,000 in grants that do not need to be repaid, while the graduate fellowship fund will support around 12 master’s students and five doctoral students. The Student Success Fund will support student participation in national conferences, professional development training, connections with employers and mentoring programs.
Graduates of HBCUs, urban core high schools in major cities, students from underrepresented backgrounds, or other students who have overcome obstacles or significant hardships in pursuing their educational goals will be given priority for these scholarships.
Students will be eligible to receive financial assistance from the funds beginning in the Fall 2022 semester.