Private equity gives back: Vista's Robert F. Smith, Clearlake's José E. Feliciano, Riverside employees
It’s #GivingTuesday, when many people strive to contribute to their communities. At Mergers & Acquisitions, we're covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. Last year, we published The Big Give, an in-depth look at how private equity firms are contributing. Efforts have continued to flourish, fueled by younger Millennials seeking to build a better future and by mature partners considering the legacy they will leave behind.
Many top PE investors are focusing on philanthropy. One recent example is Robert F. Smith. The founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners is contributing $34 million to Morehouse College, an Atlanta-based historically black college or university, or HBCU. Among Morehouse alumni are: civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.; former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson; and filmmaker Shelton “Spike” Lee.
Smith and his family are donating to the new Morehouse College Student Success Program to pay off the loans that students and parents of the Class of 2019 accumulated to fund a Morehouse education. He announced the gift in May, when he received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse. The gift is designed to ease the financial strain on the Class of 2019. More than 400 students, parents, and guardians are expected to benefit.
In another recent gift, Clearlake Capital co-founder José E. Feliciano is donating $500,000 to the Toigo Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports education and diversity in financial leadership. Toigo was formed in 1989, and works with more than 250 organizations that are committed to inclusion.
“Toigo has had a significant impact in my career trajectory and in the careers of many others,” Feliciano said. “This donation will serve to accelerate and expand those efforts to reach a larger group of talented individuals that can benefit from the organization’s leadership skills training as well as Toigo’s unparalleled mentor and alumni network.”
Feliciano is making the donation through the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano Supercharged Initiative, which announced in 2018 that it would donate $1 million to Bennett College, an HBCU for women, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Many PE firms provide opportunities for employees to make a difference. The Riverside Co., for example, offers a range of ways to contribute. A group of Riverside employees recently coached students from Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, Ohio, in a business pitch competition (pictured). The event was hosted by an organization called SuitUp, which provides educational competitions that connect corporations with schools in low-income communities to increase student career awareness and marketable skills. Other opportunities include participating in bike races to benefit cancer research, working on urban farms and stocking food pantries.