Local construction business leader and member of the FIU Foundation Board of Directors Agustín R. Arellano, Sr. and his family have donated $1 million to CasaCuba.
“Cuba is close to the hearts of so many of us at our FIU and in this community. This is why we have long dreamed of building a home to showcase our wealth of Cuba-related research and resources,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “Agustín Arellano is a longtime supporter of FIU. He has always dared to dream with us. Because of his belief in us, CasaCuba is going to be a reality.”
The gift will count towards a $50 million fundraising goal for the design, construction and operational endowment of a 50,000-square-foot facility for CasaCuba on FIU’s campus. The facility will harness the university’s academic assets to build a leading center that will promote global understanding on Cuban affairs and culture.
“I hope our gift will help provide a place where everyone can learn about and appreciate the unique, multi-layered Cuban culture and history,” said Arellano. “I’m looking forward to seeing this project develop into a true home for Cubans and a resource for our community and beyond.”
Arellano has been involved in the initiative from its inception back in 2015, when the FIU Foundation Board of Directors began to discuss the extent of FIU’s Cuba-related resources with President Rosenberg. As the idea evolved, a small group of Cuban-American community leaders formed an advisory board with Arellano as chairman. The group then recruited others and formed a full board with prominent members representing business, entertainment and the arts, communication, and legal and public affairs.
CasaCuba will leverage FIU’s significant collections related to Cuban art, history and music, as well as the Cuban Research Institute in the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, one of the nation’s leading centers for academic research and public programs on Cuban and Cuban-American issues. Initiatives currently being developed for CasaCuba include a dinner series that celebrates the diverse roots of Cuban culture and cuisine, and a heritage festival that will help the community preserve personal objects related to the Cuban experience.
Last year, the initiative received seed funding from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Ray Rodríguez, vice-chairman of the CasaCuba Board of Advisors. This funding enabled FIU to appoint María Carla Chicuén as executive director of CasaCuba. Chicuén will lead efforts to raise funds for the design and construction of the facility, advance community initiatives, and refine and implement the strategy of the center.
“We are immensely grateful to the Arellano family and inspired by their extraordinary commitment to CasaCuba,” Chicuén said. “This generous gift ensures that FIU is well on its way to build a unique, iconic space for Cuban culture and affairs to engage the community, and visitors from around the world, through education, research, discussion and the arts.”
Arellano is a co-founder and the Chairman of NV2A Group, a commercial building construction and civil infrastructure company. Arellano, a Texas A&M University graduate, previously served as the president of OHL-Arellano Construction Company from its establishment in 1974 through December 2013.
Arellano currently resides in Miami, Florida. He and his wife, Teté, have three children and 11 grandchildren.