Real Impact. Real Resilience.
Impact, innovation, excellence, resilience: These hallmarks are prominent in Florida International University’s pursuit of its mission to serve each student and generate knowledge-based solutions. Here are some of the ways philanthropy brings these qualities to life to further the university’s progress to the Next Horizon.
Expanding the pathway to philanthropy
A pioneering program inspired by Alberto Garcia Marrero ’19, MBA ’20 is fostering a new, expansive culture of philanthropy at FIU – one that shatters the traditional perception of philanthropists being older, wealthy, established.
Marrero, a Worlds Ahead Graduate and current law school student (pictured to the right at his summer 2019 commencement ceremony), is the catalyst for and founding member of the Pathway to Philanthropist program. Marrero recalls an impactful experience that helped lead him on this path: how he felt when he was awarded a scholarship.
“I was going to have to take out loans,” he remembers. “I got to school, logged onto my computer and saw that I had this scholarship. It was this sense of relief.”
Marrero wanted to give other students the same feeling. Through the new, innovative program with its personalized approach to structuring an endowment gift, he achieved an impact of nearly $300,000 to fulfill his vision: pay it forward and support first-generation students in the Honors College majoring in international business, as he did. He hopes others will follow suit. “It was an opportunity to be able to start something new within my means that was going to have a tremendous impact.”
The program makes establishing an endowment more accessible by removing a minimum initial gift level, increasing the timeline to fulfill the total commitment, and providing additional flexibility. Donors can achieve a long-term legacy of philanthropy while making an immediate impact.
While the program was inspired by Marrero, it is not just directed to young supporters. The hope is that Panthers and friends of the university from a variety of backgrounds will realize they, too, are able to make gifts far greater than they thought possible through the Pathway to Philanthropist program.
“I want to look back ten or 15 years from now and say, ‘Look at our amazing alumni base, look at what everyone is doing and how they are giving back to FIU.’”
Scholarship support soars
During a record year for fundraising, FIU broke another record: scholarship support.
Fundraising efforts for scholarships have increased considerably over the past decade, growing from $2.65 million in FY09-10 to reach a ten-year high of $12.65 million this past year (including the State of Florida’s match on the First Generation Scholarship Program).
In addition, the number of endowed scholarship funds, which will exist in perpetuity to benefit FIU students, has grown from 185 in FY09-10 to 313 in FY19-20. Among these, endowments for first-generation scholarships, which support students who are among the first in their families to attend college, have increased from just one in FY09-10 to 43 in FY19-20.
The Next Horizon campaign is built on the pillar of student success, along with research excellence; it aims to achieve this, in part, by increasing scholarships and student support. Scholarships are among the most direct ways philanthropy bolsters students. The financial support allows students to work fewer hours and focus more on their studies; it helps them travel to conferences and competitions to present their work and network with professionals; and it provides them opportunities to expand their worldview through study abroad and other experiential learning activities.