Robert F. Smith caught national attention when he pledged to wipe out Morehouse College class of 2019’s student debt. Now, the billionaire investor is planning to help 1,000 students obtain paid internships that would hopefully open doors for their future careers.
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InternX, created under Smith’s Fund II Foundation, is looking to help students who are “rising sophomores with at least a 2.8 GPA from ethnically underrepresented groups” to score an internship in one of the following fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program will provide participating companies with a database of potential interns to hire for the summer.
“[An internX internship is] a paid internship of at least 8 weeks, in a company that has been assessed to be a welcoming environment, mentorship, networking, and robust assignments. (Also, training opportunities before, during and after the internship itself.),” the website for the program stated.
AT&T, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Citi and Vista Equity Partners, which Smith founded, are reportedly among the companies that have pledged to take on internX candidates as interns this year. The program’s frequently asked questions page stated STEM-related positions across all sectors will be up for grabs.
The program is hoping to help 1,000 students land an internship this year — 930 more than 2018, Vibe reported. By 2020, internX hopes to help 10,000 students obtain internships.
"We have to create the environment for them [young adults] to share themselves, their ideas and their thoughts," Smith said in a promotional video for internX. "It could be a $100,000 thought that day and a $10 billion thought the next."
Earlier this month, Smith announced his family was setting up a grant to wipe out the class of 2019’s student debt at Morehouse in Atlanta, where he was the commencement speaker. The gift for nearly 400 grads is estimated to be worth $40 million.
Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $5 billion, founded Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies, in 2000. He received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the graduation ceremony, where he urged others to “pay it forward” to help the future generation succeed.
That wasn’t the first time Smith made a generous donation to a school. In 2016, he pledged $50 million of his personal money through a foundation to his alma mater, Cornell University’s School Of Engineering.