Robert F. Smith, a billionaire in the United States, is no stranger to helping others. After all, it is consistent with his vision of creating value for Black people. In 2019, he paid the entire Morehouse graduating class’s outstanding tuition costs, which were estimated to be $40 million.
He also donated $15 million to Cornell University in 2020 to provide financial aid to engineering students from historically underrepresented communities. Smith previously gave the university a $50 million gift in 2016 to support underrepresented students at Cornell’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
The richest Black billionaire in America is collaborating with renowned author Deepak Chopra to launch The Soul of Leadership, a program focusing on the mental health and leadership development of the Black community, in his latest move to support black excellence.
According to a press release about the collaboration, Chopra’s NeverAlone movement will focus on providing mental health services, leadership development courses for Black youth, and content to support Black entrepreneurs.
The initiative will provide free programming for Black youth. The goal is to develop them into future leaders by providing them with the resiliency and skill set needed to realize their full potential and thrive in the face of adversity.
Adult African-Americans are more likely than white adults to report continuous symptoms of emotional distress, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Furthermore, African Americans living in poverty are more likely to report psychological distress than those with greater financial security.
Regardless of these obstacles, Blacks continue to face barriers to mental health care. These barriers include socioeconomic disparities, stigma, provider bias, and care inequality.
“In order to build the leaders of tomorrow, first we must set a solid foundation where young people can fully thrive,” Smith, founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners said.
“Addressing mental health is a critical component of this leadership development,” he says. By providing Black youth with the tools they need to understand their mental and emotional needs, we are putting them on the path to success and developing future empathetic leaders with a greater capacity for understanding and navigating the world around them.”
“I am privileged to work with Robert Smith on this much-needed initiative for the empowerment of our future leaders, particularly from the Black American community,” said Chopra, founder of The Chopra Foundation.
“As our nation focuses greater attention on the current mental health epidemic, we must deploy our resources in an equitable manner to ensure that everyone is able to receive the help they need.”
Starting in early 2023, The Soul of Leadership will be a free online catalog of leadership development courses.