David Bruce Smith Family Foundation Donates $50,ooo to MC

By: Asena Acar Staff Writer

“Life,” Robert H. Smith once said, “is about getting involved in projects bigger than yourself.” These are the words that his son, David Bruce Smith, lives by, as proven by his generous pledge of $50,000 to Montgomery College. The David Bruce Smith Family Foundation has pledged this amount of money to MC in order to assist students with their financial needs for college.

The David Bruce Smith Family Foundation is a private charitable foundation, based in Washington, D.C., that supports pre-selected organizations in the areas of education, arts, humanities and social services. According to Executive Director of the Montgomery College Foundation David Sears, charity was an important part of Robert’s life, and it became a huge part of David Smith’s life too. “We have wonderful people in the community like David Bruce Smith and his family that recognize the needs of community colleges, and are addressing them through their philanthropy,” said Sears.

The $50,000 gift will be split evenly to create the Steven Smith Memorial Scholarship, named after David’s brother, who died in 2003, and the David Bruce Smith American Literature Fund. “With this gift, David Bruce Smith, president of the David Bruce Smith Family Foundation, will ensure that Montgomery College students who need financial assistance can continue to pursue their dreams of higher education,” said MC President Dr. DeRionne Pollard. “His generosity will also support enhanced College curricula for our students.”

Steven Smith was “a clever entrepreneur who operated businesses from the time he was a kid,” said David Bruce Smith, recalling memories of his late brother. According to Sears, the Steven Smith Memorial Scholarship will begin in 2013, and approximately two scholarships will be awarded annually between 2013 and 2014. Depending on students’ financial needs, the amount of scholarship money awarded may change. However, on average, $2,500 will be awarded to each recipient.

The other project, the David Bruce Smith American Literature Fund, will begin in the fall of 2014. The purpose of this project is to promote reading American literature throughout the student population. As part of the project, two American literature courses will be established at MC. According to Sears, the courses will encourage students to read an appreciate plays, essays, poetry and books by great American authors like Mark Twain and Willa Cather. “What we hope to do is see that you, as students, have really meaningful discourse conversations about American literature and culture,” said Sears.

David Bruce Smith has a bachelor’s degree in American literature from George Washington University, and a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. As an American literature major at George Washington University, literature is still important to David Bruce Smith. “I am in favor of enhancing the American literature courses, because exposure to the great writers such as Twain, Cather, Wharton and others has diminished,” said David Bruce Smith, regarding the creation of the David Bruce Smith American Literature Fund. “It is important that students receive a balance between the arts and sciences during their college careers.”

Clearly, David Bruce Smith has a particular interest in American literature, and making sure that students are exposed to great American authors. In fact, he owns a publishing company called DBS Publishing LLC, and has his own website, “davidbrucesmith.com,” dedicated to the books he has written.

In addition to writing books, he also constantly reviews books by other authors. According to Director of Gift Planning Elana Lippa, he is currently reviewing at least one book, if not more, for other authors. “He’s very literary. He loves the printed word, and he reads voraciously,” said Lippa.

So how did MC actually receive this $50,000 gift from the David Bruce Smith Family Foundation? David Bruce Smith actually has a connection to MC; he is involved with the college. As returning students may recall, he and his mother, Clarice Smith, did an exhibit down at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus last fall called “Continuum: Mother and Son, Artist and Author.”

For those who did not see the exhibit, it featured four collaborative book projects completed by David Bruce and Clarice Smith over the past 20 years, with text by David Bruce Smith and displays of original art work by Clarice Smith. Ever since this exhibit, the MC Foundation staff has developed a relationship with David Bruce Smith. This close relationship with David Bruce Smith allowed Lippa to talk with him, and together, they came up with the $50,000 gift.

According to Sears, MC’s Foundation, which is a non-profit organization of MC, raises between $3 million and $4 million a year, with a lot of focus on trying to raise money for scholarships, student emergency funds and programs. The Foundation receives donations from several donors per year, some of which are restricted and some of which are unrestricted. Restricted donors are ones that decide how the Foundation will use the money they donate, and unrestricted donors allow the Foundation to decide how their donated money will be used.

The Smith family is one in which all members have devoted their lives to helping others. Robert’s father, Charles E. Smith, was a big philanthropist two generations ago, and he has passed his philanthropy to Robert, who then passed it on to David. “They’re very big in philanthropy, and supporting the community, higher education arts, humanities and business,” said Lippa. “It’s like a family tradition. They’re a really nice group of people.”

Did you miss the exhibit from last year? Would you like to see more from David Bruce Smith? Well, you are in luck! David Bruce Smith wrote the introduction to the catalog for the “Reflections: Mentor and Protégé” art exhibit, which is currently on display at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center. Located at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, the exhibit is on display until December 16. Don’t forget to check out the work of Clarice Smith, a well-known and talented artist. For more MC news and events, go to “mcadvocate.com.”