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Billionaire Robert Smith to pay off Morehouse Class of 2019’s student loans

Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate at Morehouse College’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.

But during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the billionaire technology investor and philanthropist surprised some by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire Class of 2019.

“This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”

The announcement elicited the biggest cheers of the morning.

Tonga Releford, whose son Charles Releford III is a member of the Class of 2019, estimates that his student loans are right at about $70,000.

“I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she said.

The gift has been estimated at $40 million.


Source and feature image: AJC


Black Bank To Receive $1 Million From Billionaire

Billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker is making a $1 million deposit in Chicago’s last remaining Black owned bank.

Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker

As we reported earlier this year, Chicago’s Seaway Bank & Trust failed, leaving Illinois Service Federal Savings as the last Black owned bank left in Chicago.

The Announcement

Pritzker hinted towards the investment earlier this week during a radio interview and his campaign team confirmed shortly after, saying the deposit is part of Pritzker’s commitment to improve economic conditions in hard hit communities and neighborhoods.

“J.B. has made expanding access to capital for small business and entrepreneurs, and making investments in the communities hardest hit by Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership and manufactured budget crisis a top priority for him as governor,” a spokesman said in an email.

Not the first $1 million deposit at a Black Bank

Pritzker’s idea isn’t original though. He’s actually doing what his opponent already did years ago.

In 2014, Bruce Rauner, a then Republican candidate for governor, deposited $1 million in a South Side credit union.

“I would have done what we’ve done today irrespective of the campaign,” Rauner said at the time.

Rauner makes $1M deposit at South Side credit union

The Scandal

The Pritzker campaign says the deposit is “part of a broader effort to revitalize minority neighborhoods.”

Others say $1 million is nothing a man who made hundreds of millions as part of the leadership at Superior Bank, a subprime mortgage and auto loan provider that eventually failed during the 2008 financial crisis.

The bank was described as “One of the nation’s largest bank failures in a decade.”

A former small business owner remembers waiting outside one of the bank’s branches the week after its closing with dozens of other depositors worried about their money.

“It looked like a soup kitchen,” he said. “And the Pritzkers made money on the deal.”

Closing thoughts

So, how do we feel about this deposit now? Is it a ploy to buy favor from Black voters?

My hope and prayer is that somehow there will actually be families and business owners that benefit for this. Hopefully, among them will be those who got shafted during the 2008 financial crisis.


– Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson