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Responding to real needs in real time

“Unprecedented times.” This now ubiquitous phrase rang especially true in South Florida, which witnessed widespread COVID-19 outbreaks, with one of its largest and most vital industries, hospitality, especially hard-hit.

FIU knew it had to help its community and help fast.

To provide financial support to independently owned and operated restaurants, the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management partnered with the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival® presented by Capital One and founder Lee Brian Schrager to create the SOBEWFF® & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Industry Relief Fund. With significant funding from partners Bacardi USA and Badia Spices, Inc., as well as others throughout the community, the fund has aided more than 500 restaurants and bars, many of them headed by FIU alumni, to date.

At the same time, 997 students received emergency relief grants through private donations to the FIU Foundation, totaling $1.05 million; FIU tested patients at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fairgrounds COVID-19 testing site; and Panthers from across FIU units joined forces to produce and donate more than 6,000 face shields to local hospitals and front-line workers.