Behind The Family Fellowship – Robert and Hope Smith
Let’s take a look at the biggest supporters of our Family Fellowship scholarship, Robert and Hope Smith. Since 2015, Together We Rise and Fund ll Foundation’s partnership has helped dozens of former foster youth achieve their academic goals through the Family Fellowship scholarship.
The founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation, Robert F. Smith, and his wife Hope D. Smith, look to create opportunities that lift vulnerable communities. Their lived experiences keep them focused on efforts that promote human rights, bringing dignity and equity to underserved communities.
The Family Fellowship Program
The program’s commitment is to provide higher education scholarships to foster youth who may not otherwise have the support to complete their education. Each student chosen receives up to $12,000 per year for up to five years.
So far, the Family Fellowship has awarded 49 former foster youth with a fellowship. Here is some insight into J’s experience as a fellow.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity as it has allowed me to continue my education at the University of California, Los Angeles. When I left Colorado after the Family Fellowship scholarship reveal, I made a promise to myself to not allow doubt to overshadow my ambitions. For the first time, I felt understood by my new friends and encouraged by my Together We Rise Family. I felt a shift in my mentality about who I am and what I can become. I realized that I had to allow myself to explore new horizons and grow out of my comfort zone to achieve greatness.
Since attending UCLA, I have decided to focus my education to become a lawyer. I have joined a co-ed professional law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. Now I am actively involved as the Director of Academics of my pledge class.
Thank you very much for not only the support you have given me but to all in the Family Fellowship.
Role Models to Us All
In 2019, Robert gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College’s graduation stating,
Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you get educated. Where you go to school shouldn’t determine whether you get textbooks. The opportunity you access should be determined by the fierceness of your intellect, the courage of your creativity, and the grit that allows you to overcome expectations that weren’t set high enough.
Robert and Hope have prioritized giving back to various philanthropic organizations and nonprofits over the years. Particularly those that provide educational opportunities to underserved and underprivileged communities. Their generosity allows our fellows to pursue professional degrees and secure employment in the field they are passionate about.
The Smith’s recent donations to the Columbia Business School will support MBA students with partial or full scholarships over the next ten years. The goal of this scholarship is to support students who’ve graduated from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) helping them continue their academic pursuits.
Moving Former Foster Youth Forward
Robert and Hope’s dedication inspires so many people to invest in providing better futures for youth in foster care. We leave you with a statement from our fellow M.S.,
This opportunity to earn an education means everything to me. The best weekend of my life is still the weekend that I found out I was selected for the Family Fellowship Scholarship. I hadn’t known until that day how much the problem of paying for college had weighed on me. Until you said the words that would change my college experience for the better. So I now get to attend college with so many of my initial worries gone and knowing that I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree either debt-free or with very little debt, and that means the world to me.