One yr in the past, Robert Smith, the wealthiest African-American, surprised the nation by pledging to repay the scholar loans of the 2019 class of Morehouse Faculty. Whereas giving his graduation speech on the commencement ceremony of the traditionally black all-male faculty, Smith additionally issued a problem.
“I’ve got the alumni over there and this is a challenge to you alumni,” Smith stated on the time. “Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward. Because we are enough to take care of our own community.”
Smith’s $34 million present acquired the eye of Frank Baker, who has identified Smith for years. Like Smith, Baker is an African-American who discovered enterprise success by beginning a non-public fairness agency that invests in know-how corporations. Smith and Baker each began their Wall Avenue careers in 1994 within the mergers and acquisitions group of Goldman Sachs.
Baker has taken Smith’s problem significantly and this week introduced he can be paying the tutoring balances of about 50 seniors who’re graduating from Spelman Faculty, the all-women traditionally black faculty in Atlanta.
“Robert was fortunate enough to go to Cornell and Columbia and him giving to Morehouse was a nod to the recognition that the majority of African-Americans going to college are graduating from historically black institutions,” stated Baker, who graduated from the College of Chicago, in an interview. “We need to make sure these schools continue to be viable. We are all part of the same community. It doesn’t matter if I went to the school or not.”
The founding father of Siris Capital in N.Y., Baker, 47, determined to go about issues a bit bit in another way than Smith. He wished to assist high-achieving Spelman college students who couldn’t afford to get to the end line and graduate. Baker had been in discussions with Spelman’s board of trustees about placing collectively a program, however accelerated his plans after the pandemic hit and he acquired a name from Spelman per week in the past. He was advised there have been about 50 high-achieving seniors who had balances and wanted assist.
“The people who my heart really goes out to are women in their senior year who can’t afford it anymore and have to drop out,” says Baker. “These are the most resilient people because if they run out of money their senior year, you know they were out of money their sophomore year and just made it work.”
Baker has spent $250,000 to cowl the tutoring balances of about 50 girls so they may graduate this yr with no cash owed to Spelman Faculty. He has dedicated to persevering with to spend a minimum of $1 million to assist Spelman seniors in related conditions for the subsequent three years.
“These are the women we need in the workforce,” says Baker. “They are going to make a difference.”