Billionaire Robert F. Smith Aims To Help HBCU Students Pay For Tuition And Increase Campus Cybersecurity
Photo Credit: Grant Lamos IV

Billionaire Robert F. Smith Aims To Help HBCU Students Pay For Tuition And Increase Campus Cybersecurity

On Sept. 3, 2021, Howard University experienced a cyberattack that has now brought more attention to an issue that has been overlooked.

According to the initial report about the cyberattack, Howard reported the breach to both the FBI and the Washington, D.C. city government about the attack and said that they put in initial safeguards to prevent future attacks.

“On September 3, 2021, the Howard University information technology team detected unusual activity on the University’s network. In accordance with our cyber response protocol, and to mitigate the potential for criminal activity, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) intentionally shut down the University’s network to investigate the situation,” read a press release issued by Howard University.

Thankfully, Black billionaire Robert F. Smith, considered the wealthiest Black man in America, has announced his latest Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) tour in an effort to provide more cybersecurity to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In a press release announcement, it was revealed that the tour will feature an initial cohort of nine HBCUs.

“The SFI team is also providing complimentary (yes, free!) cybersecurity upgrades and support to help protect HBCUs and help them reach compliance with an unfunded federal mandate related to the federal student loan program,” said a representative for the Black billionaire in a statement provided in the press release.

The Black billionaire first gained national prominence when he pledged a $34 million gift to Atlanta’s historically Black Morehouse College, paying off student balances for 400 graduates. The founder of Vista Equity Partners said that his ultimate goal was to close the racial inequity gap and provide Black men and women with an equal financial playing field to their white counterparts, especially when they graduate from college. To do so, Smith is providing “alternative funding” programs that don’t involve high-interest student loans, which has worked out well so far.

Editorial Note: This piece has been edited for clarity since initially published.