Class of 2000 pays it forward

A few of FAMU class of 2000 members. Photo courtesy Famu Forward

Two weeks ago, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University announced that the freshman class of 2000 had raised the most money for the university in 2020. The class to raise the most funds is traditionally acknowledged during homecoming.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homecoming was canceled, preventing the class of 2000 from celebrating but the pandemic didn’t disrupt the class from raising the money needed to aid students.

Last year, the freshman class of 1999 raised $200,000. This year the freshman class of 2020 had a goal to raise $250,000 to prove to the 1999 class that they would outdo them.

The class of 2000 surpassed the 1999 class by raising $275,000.

Roshell RinkinsIt, senior director of grants administration at the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation and fundraising chair for the freshman class of 2000, highlighted how essential it was for the 2000 class to take the initiative to raise money because of the pandemic.

“Now more than ever, FAMU needs us. It feels really great to be able to make such a sizable gift to FAMU, and to do it during a global pandemic further cements our commitment to the university,” Rinkins said during a conversation with the author of FAMU Forward, Andrew Skerritt.

More than 300 alumni, family, and friends participated in their campaign through building relationships with each other, inventiveness and cohesion. The class of 2000 also created a leadership committee that represented the dynamic class’ representation.

Photo courtesy Famu Forward

The class of 2000 took the initiative to create a private Facebook page and public Instagram to distribute information and interact with each other during the process. A digital Rattler studio was established by classmates to facilitate activities, along with a discussion with one of the members of the class of 2000, Ibram X.

Ibram X is the best-selling author of the book “How to be an Anti-Racist.” The event, including Ibram X, was sponsored by  his classmate Marcus Sandifer’s law firm, DLA Piper.

An associate at DLA Piper, Sandifer said the feeling he received from being part of a class that donated the most money this year.

“It felt really amazing to be a part of a purpose bigger than ourselves. We definitely wanted to smash the class of ’99 gift record, but we quickly realized that now more than ever that we have been called to produce the next leaders, thinkers, and achievers and FAMU cannot do it without the help of our alumni. It was more than about a class gift, it is to help secure the prosperity of FAMU’s greatest asset, and that is the great students it produces,” said Sandifer.

The freshman class of 2000 made sure all of their classmates felt part of the process, regardless if they were only able to give $18.87 or more. The class of 2000’s goal was to unite the 2000 class as well as giving back to the school they attended 20 years ago.

After attending the 2019 homecoming convocation, the class of 2000 planned to collect the most funds, after seeing the 1999 class credited for raising the most funds within that year, not knowing that the pandemic would happen this year.

Member of FAMU’s class of 2000, Antonia Dean, said she is thankful to be able to attend FAMU and how she could never repay the school for her success.

“Even this amount is not enough to pay back what FAMU has given me. Even if I were to raise this amount every year for the rest of my life i would still feel indebted to that university,” Dean said during a conversation with Tallahassee Florida Community TV station.