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FIU records best fundraising year ever
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FIU records best fundraising year ever

A $40 million donation from a nationally renowned philanthropist and several major gifts from within the South Florida community together recognize FIU’s impact and even greater potential

June 29, 2021 at 1:50pm

An extraordinary year of philanthropy in support of FIU has ensured a bright future for the university, its students and all of South Florida.

Generous donations made in recognition of FIU’s standing as a critical educator within the region and a national leader in promoting social mobility will transform the university for decades to come and further elevate its profile at home and abroad.

“We are grateful to every donor who has stepped up to support FIU's mission and contributed to this unprecedented fundraising year at our FIU," said Howard Lipman, CEO of the FIU Foundation, Inc. “It is both humbling and empowering to have them behind our efforts to boost student success and advance research excellence.”

The FIU Foundation has surpassed its fundraising goal for the fiscal year 2020-2021, bringing in nearly $112 million and counting in support against an annual goal of $79 million. This achievement marks the third consecutive, record fundraising year for the FIU Foundation. To date, the multiyear Next Horizon campaign has raised a total of $679 million toward its $750 million goal.

Transforming the student experience
Philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott and husband Dan Jewett in mid-June announced a $40 million gift to FIU. The unsolicited, unrestricted funds will be used to fuel student success.

“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” Scott wrote in her announcement. FIU is the top institution in the U.S. in enrolling and graduating Hispanic American students with bachelor’s degrees, according to an analysis released by Excelencia in Education.  

“This generous gift is a game-changer for FIU and our students’ success for generations to come,” President Mark B. Rosenberg said. “Ms. Scott, Mr. Jewett and their team have taken note of our work serving a diverse student body and developing evidence-based strategies that have proven effective in helping our students succeed. This gift allows us to augment programs that we know work, develop models that can be replicated elsewhere, lift communities and combat poverty.”

The university has announced broad plans to use the money to bolster programs that focus on academic and career support. These include, among others, the STEM Transformation Institute, which prepares students to work or teach in the science, technology, engineering and medical fields; the Mastery Math Lab, which offers an alternative to traditional lecture learning; and the Connect4Success partnerships that guide students who have attained associate degrees through the state’s college system to earn bachelor’s degrees at FIU. Scholarship programs, emergency and completion grants and support for formerly homeless and foster youth likewise will see additional resources to bring students to the finish line. Read more.

Buttressing FIU’s role in the Miami tech movement
A $10 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will accelerate FIU’s role in the burgeoning South Florida tech industry. The newly renamed Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences—already the region’s leader in turning out tech graduates—will expand to meet the increased need for expert personnel as the area undergoes a tech boom.

The Knight Foundation donation serves as a catalyst to FIU’s further contributing to the local tech ecosystem by attracting top faculty researchers in areas such as artificial intelligence, smart robotics, bioinformatics, biodevices and digital forensics and strengthening collaboration with industry. The school is a leader statewide in federal research funding for computer science. In all, the university has committed to pouring more than $100 million into the effort over the next 10 years, which includes constructing a new building dedicated to advanced computing on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.  Read more.

A center to celebrate and preserve Cuban heritage
A prominent Cuban American businessman made a lead gift of $5 million in support of CasaCuba, the university’s center for the celebration and preservation of Cuban culture and the study of Cuban affairs.

On behalf of his family, Jorge Mas announced that the contribution to help build 57,000-square-foot facility on Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The iconic cultural center will integrate the latest technologies to enable interactive and digital experiences. CasaCuba will house FIU’s existing Cuban Research Institute and promote engaging discussions that will bring together top scholars, policymakers and business leaders from around the globe. The facility will feature galleries for a wide range of exhibits, as well as a state-of-the-art venue for events, classes, performances and dynamic programming. The building is currently in the design phase and will be located at the primary 107th Ave. campus entrance. Read more.

A forum for civic leadership
The Maurice A. Ferré Foundation made a $2 million gift, and pledged to raise an additional more than 3.5 million in funds in the coming years, to establish the Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.

The new institute honors the life and work of its late namesake, who served as mayor of Miami from 1973 to 1985, and will address the critical matters of preparing diverse leadership for public service, increasing civic participation for a stronger democracy and promoting social justice.

The Ferré Institute will be located in the Green School’s Phase II building currently under construction. Maurice Ferré’s extensive personal library and collection of papers, awards and other artifacts from a lifetime of public service will be housed in the Special Collections and University Archives department of the Steven and Dorothea Green Library. Read more.