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Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

As Vista Equity Partners founder Robert Smith began his commencement address yesterday morning at Morehouse College in Atlanta, school president David Thomas was simply expecting to hear inspirational words, allowing "students to look to the stage and project themselves into the future." And then Smith announced that he would pay off all of their student loans.

Why it matters: As Thomas told me over the phone last night, "Robert ... sent a message that those of us with wealth in the African-American community who value institutions that distinctively serve the African-American community need to support those institutions."

Details: Smith's grant will be disbursed through Morehouse, which is now working to figure out how exactly to go about it.

  • The school's low-end estimate is that it will be worth a total of $10 million, while its upper end is $40 million.

More from Thomas:

"The way I think about Robert's gift is that it rewards those individuals who were committed to getting the best education they could at the best college they could attend, and who invested in themselves by taking on student debt. Our students are like individuals anywhere: There are probably other financial challenges they face not captured in this gift. But what he's essentially done is made these students free to make choices to follow their passions."

The big picture: Texas-based Smith is widely rumored to have political aspirations, although for now he's committed to an $11.4 billion fund Vista raised just last year.

  • In the meantime, Smith's Morehouse announcement officially changed his mass media descriptor from "private equity investor" to "philanthropist," and it put a further spotlight on America's student debt crisis.

Go deeper: How student debt causes lower incomes

Go deeper

55 mins ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.