In a world that is as rampantly unequal as the world we live in, it’s easy to feel disdain for the haves and the have-nots. It’s a world that can feel really unfair at times, as we watch people earning millions of pounds per year take control of every industry.
We sit back and watch the become increasingly unequal, and it creates a natural and understandable bitterness towards the ‘billionaire class’ – but, from time to time, we get some solid proof that not all billionaires are the loveless, empathy-free caricatures they are often made out to be.
Take the story of Robert F. Smith, a popular billionaire. He went down to Morehouse College to see the graduating class of 2019 and congratulate them for their success. More importantly, he gave them a wonderful parting gift: he paid of all of their student loans.
During his commencement speech, the billionaire started and said: "Men of Morehouse, you are surrounded by a community of people who have helped you arrive at this sacred place on this sacred day,
"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. This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans."
Now, for those who think that might be a small gesture, estimates reckon this covers as many as 400 graduates – and could be as much as $40m in total to cover the costs. That’s a truly incredible sum of money to donate to people who he has never met before in his life.
We’re often told we should be thankful because some super-rich individual has donated a relatively small portion of money to a good cause. To spend $40m of your own money lifting one of the biggest burdens on the next generation of successful students, though, is nothing short of incredible.
Robert F. Smith is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Business School. He made his money as a smart investor when he was CEO at Vista Equity Partners. He managed to become the wealthiest African American, with a net worth of over $4bn. While that’s an eye-watering sum of money, it’s nice to see such an act of kindness carried out with that money, helping those who really need the support.
When asked to comment on the act of generosity, President of Morehouse College David Thomas remarked: "Robert Smith has set an example that others will follow, not just for Morehouse but for other historically black colleges and universities."