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About Robert F. Smith & Fund II Foundation
As a major philanthropic organization, Fund II Foundation has a strong focus on defending human rights. And as Robert F. Smith, Founding Director and President of the Fund II Foundation noted, human rights are often linked to health and wellness, especially in the Black community. Working to protect healthcare access and equity as a human right, Fund II Foundation made a $27 million grant to Susan G. Komen for the ambitious African American Health Equity Initiative in 2016.
Smith spoke at the launch event for the Initiative, and said, “The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King said that the biggest injustice one can find is really in healthcare. The Fund II Foundation is focused on — among a number of pillars – helping to decrease that disparity and level the playing field in health care and treatment for African-American women.”
The Fund II Foundation and Susan G. Komen
With the help of the Fund II Foundation, Komen has set the ambitious but very necessary goal of reducing Black breast cancer disparities by 25%, starting in 10 metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the highest disparities. This Initiative’s urgency and noble aspirations speak to the extreme danger posed by cancer within the Black community. Data shows that Black women in the U.S. are about 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Nearly half of Black women diagnosed with breast cancer die within 5 years vs. less than one in three white women. Black women are also often diagnosed later, and with more aggressive forms of breast cancer, and experience a negative financial impact from their diagnosis and these gaps remain large after controlling for social and economic variables. Through education and increasing access to better healthcare, the Initiative hopes to help Black women across the country who otherwise would not receive equitable cancer care.
The work of the Health Equity Initiative will first focus on African-American communities in:
- Memphis, TN
- St. Louis, MO
- Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
- Los Angeles, CA
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Atlanta, GA
- Chicago, IL
- Houston, TX
- Washington, DC and
- Philadelphia, PA
It is the hope of the Fund II Foundation that their partnership with Susan G. Komen in these communities will help educate and empower the Black community, improve early detection, and diagnosis, and successfully treat breast cancer. Through a shared goal to eliminate systemic barriers to high quality healthcare, the Fund II Foundation and the African American Health Equity Initiative hope to dramatically decrease late stage diagnosis and deaths, and achieve breast health equity in the U.S.
About Robert F. Smith
Fund II Foundation Founding Director and President Robert F. Smith brings his indomitable spirit and lifelong focus to lift up the African-American community to his work with Susan G. Komen and the African-American Health Equity Initiative. Smith has long championed causes that increase opportunities for education and those that safeguard human rights.
Smith understands the danger that cancer poses to the Black community, and he has supported major philanthropic causes to fight the disease.
In addition to Smith’s work with the African American Health Equity Initiative to fight breast cancer, he also has focused on battling prostate cancer. In 2017, Smith donated $2.5 million to establish the Robert Frederick Smith Precision Oncology Center of Excellence in Chicago, at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
In July 2020, Smith announced a new project with the PCF to create a genetics-based test for early detection of prostate cancer. Smith’s background in chemical engineering, his focus on innovation and technology, and his entrepreneurial experience as Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners have all played a role in his focus on scientific and technological advancements, including those for cancer treatment and research.
Paula Schneider, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen and Jonathan W. Simons MD is the CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation noted, “In the years since his involvement with Susan G. Komen and the Prostate Cancer Foundation began, Robert has supported our efforts, championed our lifesaving work, and challenged us to deliver transformational change.”
Smith’s philanthropy within the Black community is notable, including his $20 million individual donation to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, his commitment to pay off $34 million of student loan debt for the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College, and his 2020 pledge to personally donate $50 million to the Student Freedom Initiative to alleviate student loan debt for minority students majoring in STEM subjects at HBCUs. This last donation matches a $50 million grant from the Fund II Foundation to also support the work of the Student Freedom Initiative.
Smith also offers much of his personal time and expertise to serve on boards for many organizations, including as Chairman of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and as Member of the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School. He has been honored with recognitions including the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and in 2020 the Time100 list of the Most Influential People.
Follow Robert F. Smith and Fund II Foundation:
“The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King said that the biggest injustice one can find is really in healthcare. The Fund II Foundation is focused on — among a number of pillars – helping to decrease that disparity and level the playing field in health care and treatment for African-American women.“
–Robert F. Smith, Founding Director and President of the Fund II Foundation