Fund-raising at FAMU keeps growing

Darryl and Leslye Fraser have donated $215,000 to provide scholarships for FAMU engineering students. Photo courtesy: FAMU’s Official Instagram @famu_1887

Each year at Florida A&M’s homecoming football game, there is an announcement to share the total amount of donations made to certain programs, colleges and schools. This year, FAMU raised a whopping $25.7 million in donations.

While this money is not raised during the week of homecoming, the numbers are reported during the traditional celebration where it will reach the widest audience during this time. While the past three years have been significant in fundraising, in the fiscal year 2023, the FAMU Foundation has now raised the most in the university’s history.

The fiscal year for the university runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. As the past three years have been the most pivotal for FAMU, starting with the fiscal year 2020-2021, FAMU raised $13.7 million; from 2021-2022, $24.6 million; and then onward.

The FAMU Foundation was created in 1966 as a separate 501C3 and certified as a direct support organization of the university to be able to accept philanthropic gifts on behalf of the university. Section 501C3 is the portion of the Internal Revenue Services’ code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations that meet the code’s requirements.

And while the foundation itself has no employees, there is a board of directors which is comprised of mostly volunteers, excluding the president, who sits on the board, and the executive director of the National Alumni Association.

Though this money is marked for different purposes, the money is applied to the school or corresponding programs once the funds are fully received, applications have been processed and then the purpose for the donation occurs.

When looking for donors, Shawnta Friday-Shroud, the executive director of the FAMU Foundation, emphasizes the importance of finding funding that resonates with people, while also noting how vital it is to stay in contact with donors as well as keeping them updated on any new occurrences.

“When raising money, you’re really trying to find programs, activities or initiatives that people can connect with and that they have a passion for,” Friday-Shroud said. “Then sharing that to give the donors the want to contribute to help.”

These efforts pay off in the long run when big corporations such as BP/Amoco donate $1.35 million and individually the couple Darryl and Leslye Fraser donate $215,000.

New residents to Florida, the Frasers recognize the role HBCUs play and continue to play in African American education and aim to “adopt an HBCU” where their contributions can have a lasting impact. With mentoring from former dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Yaw Yeboah, his impact was everlasting, and the Frasers believe in paying it forward.

“Our family motto is ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ We are delighted to be in the position to give back,” the Frasers said. “We hope to inspire students to pursue an engineering degree, support them in that endeavor and ultimately help them achieve a rewarding career in a STEM field.”

Though they are not FAMU alumni, the Frasers have had a number of family members and friends attend the university. But, having benefitted in their own careers from having an engineering background, they hope to provide the same opportunity to others.

With all of this newfound attention and a steadily increasing freshmen classes, this number is only expected to rise. And if the FAMU Foundation continues to do the work they do, beating the university’s previous year’s goals will get easier as the years go on.