Submitted by FAMU Public Relations
Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced a $1.2 million donation from Frank and Laura Baker to help students with financial challenges graduate in four years. The gift will establish the Frank and Laura Baker Graduation Fund, which will provide funding for students who are qualified to graduate in four years but have an outstanding account balance to the university.
Frank Baker is a co-founder and managing partner of Siris, a leading private equity firm with more than $7 billion in assets under management focused on making value-oriented, control investments in technology companies. Baker said the donation to Florida’s largest, and only public Historically, Black College and University (HBCU) is an investment in the future.
“In 2020, we established Siris’ Florida office, and as part of that, we believed it was important to invest in our new community,” Baker said. “Through our conversations with FAMU, we learned there are extremely capable students who aren’t able to graduate in four years solely due to limited financial resources. We also discovered that the four-year graduation rate is a key metric in determining the amount of funding FAMU receives from the State of Florida. This made our “investment” decision pretty easy — FAMU students in the workforce sooner and potentially unlocking more State funding.”
As part of the gift agreement, the FAMU Office of University Advancement, the Office of Student Success, and Strategic Initiatives, along with Frank and Laura Baker, will review the cohort each year to determine how the Graduation Fund will be distributed. The initial $300,000 will be used to clear university balances for spring and summer 2022 graduates once the certification process is complete and to match donations during the Day of Giving “1887 Strikes” campaign April 21-22, which raised an additional $360,000.
“This is a transformational gift that will encourage our students to finish in a timely manner and allow them to move forward less burdened by debt to the University,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “We thank Frank and Laura Baker for investing in our students. Their generosity will reap untold dividends for years to come.”
The agreement also puts in place a framework for the University to track recipients; they will be asked to respond to periodic surveys in the years ahead and encouraged to give back to the University.
“The timing and magnitude of this gift cannot be overstated,” said Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FAMU Foundation. “It reinforces the importance of the task ahead and is a reminder that student success is at the core of our mission.”