The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Christian K. Lee—The Washington Post/Getty Images
By Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

Robert F. Smith is perhaps the savviest investor in America today. Through his firm, Vista Equity Partners, he manages $58 billion in more than 60 technology companies that employ tens of thousands of people worldwide. But even while recognizing his impressive record of success, his most important investments over the years have been in people.

Last year, Smith instantly granted hundreds of young Black men the ability to pursue their aspirations when he donated $34 million to the Morehouse College Class of 2019 so they could graduate debt-free. In addition to generous donations to his alma maters Cornell and Columbia universities, he also gave to the United Negro College Fund to increase educational opportunities for under­represented students of color. Earlier this year, he lobbied tirelessly to secure relief for thousands of minority-owned small businesses. Through his efforts, Congress earmarked $10 billion for institutions that support investment in lower-income urban and rural communities.

Robert F. Smith has keenly recognized that the most important way to use wealth and considerable resources is to reinvest in people and their communities, societies and futures. If we can perpetuate this priority, we just may have a shot at creating a better world for future generations.

Jackson is a producer and an Academy Award-nominated actor, and Richardson Jackson is a producer and a Tony Award-nominated actor. They are married

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