Robert F. Smith has done it again!
The Wall Street billionaire known for paying off the student loan debt of 2019 Morehouse graduates has pledged $1 million to the National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants (NSBCPA) to support efforts to increase the number of Black CPAs in the United States.
“Raising Black representation in the financial workforce doesn’t just put more Black people in high-quality jobs. It helps build opportunity and wealth over generations while promoting financial literacy that is so crucial to achieving prosperity,” said Smith. “Representation matters, and this program will help aspiring accountants see that they belong in this field.”
Founded in June 2020, NSBCPA aims to increase the number of Black CPAs by providing knowledge, resources, and advocacy. The organization also provides a space where future CPAs can learn from professionals who have walked in their shoes and can demonstrate what’s possible as a CPA.
“Less than 1 percent of the CPAs in the United States are Black—and that has not changed in 40 years,” said Shannon Nash, chair of the NSBCPA. “If we do not do something now, then when?”she asked during a meeting hosted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
Smith’s $1 million gift will be a game-changer in helping the organization finance its groundbreaking initiatives. A high-priority item on the list is increasing the number of Black students who sit for and pass the CPA exam–a four-part exam that has earned a reputation of being more difficult than the bar examination for future attorneys. The organization has already garnered support from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Foundation.
NSCPA’s distinctive virtual CPA Exam Review Program (“CPA Breakthrough”) for Black accounting students will provide a roadmap for success during all phases of the exam process. With the financial support from Smith, the organization will be able to move forward with the following program goals:
- Pre-recorded sessions led by Black CPAs and professors
- Accounting knowledge assessment
- CPA exam fees and application support
- Review materials and additional learning aids
- Weekly CPA exam review sessions hosted by Black CPAs
- Weekly accountability study sessions
- CPA mentor assigned to each student
“It’s not an easy exam. But who better to make Black CPAs than Black CPAs?” said Felicia Farrar, NSBCPA vice chair and founder of the CPA Review Program, during an interview.
“We’re proud to partner with Robert Smith and the AICPA on this groundbreaking project,” said Farrar. “Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the hire of the first-ever Black CPA, John Cromwell. For that and so many other reasons, now is the perfect time to build on his legacy and create new ones in the financial community for future generations to look up to.”