High School Named After Billionaire Robert F. Smith Opens, Plans to Offer HBCU Experience

A new school named after billionaire Robert F. Smith is open this fall and wants to offer the HBCU experience to high school students.

According to the website, the school named Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy seeks to “honor students’ history, individuality, cultural experiences, and future potential while providing a rigorous and high-quality education.”

Initially, officials planned to name the school after First Lady Michelle Obama. Ultimately, school officials decided to name the institution after the chemical engineer-turned-investor, according to 9News.

Robert F. Smith - CEO, Vista Equity Partners
(Robert F. Smith. Image:

According to the school’s co-founder, Samatha Pryor, the school is in an area that is in desperate need of the resources the school offers. 

“We wanted to create a high-quality option in our neighborhood because a lot of our kids were going outside of our neighborhood, traveling long distances across the city, to find quality options,” she said.

The school is open to other minority students as well. According to school officials, the main goal is to offer a curriculum and experience that is validating.

“There is a persistent erasure of the Black experience, of Latinx and indigenous experiences in this nation and world. Our focus is to really center the experience of those of us who have been marginalized and minoritized,” founding principal, Shakira Abney-Wisdom told Denverite.

“Our school’s existence is just an act of resilience and resistance to oppressive structures in society. This is a sanctuary, really, a safe space for our scholars to be all that they are, and to grow, to challenge themselves, to challenge one another, to accomplish the goals that they have.”

Robert F. Smith is perhaps best known for his recent actions of vowing to cancel student loans, and debts, of the Morehouse graduating class of 2019. Since then, he also gifted the HBCU $1.5 million to start a scholarship fund.

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