LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
“‘Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely—call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition,’ said President John F. Kennedy. Surely it is—and nowhere has it been better displayed than here at FIT in this tumultuous and dramatically difficult year.”
“Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely—call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition,” said President John F. Kennedy. Surely it is—and nowhere has it been better displayed than here at FIT in this tumultuous and dramatically difficult year.
The pandemic has brought sorrow to the FIT community, as it has to the rest of the world: We have had illness and loss throughout our ranks. The economic impact has been severe, both to the college and most painfully to countless students whose families—or they themselves—suffered job loss or even lost the roof over their heads. As one student told us, “I barely have enough money to pay for the remainder of my tuition and once that’s deducted from my account, I will have very little for food and won’t have enough for rent.”
When Francine LeFrak heard stories like this, she quickly took action, setting up a lifesaving emergency fund to ensure that students could continue their FIT education without further financial struggle. This annual report, called Portraits of Giving, highlights her gift, along with some of the other ways in which FIT has been enriched thanks to members of the FIT community and its friends.
Take Pete Scotese, for instance. Pete, chairman emeritus of our Board of Trustees, revered corporate and civic leader, and philanthropist extraordinaire, has long lived by the life-affirming motto: “Love what you have … not what you want.” FIT benefits greatly from his continuing generosity and devotion to the college.
Amber Valletta is FIT’s first sustainability ambassador. This supermodel and actress has earmarked a portion of her earnings to the FIT Sustainability Fund—one of our core initiatives.
Steven Frumkin, dean of the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology for eight years, died of COVID-19 in July of 2020. Beloved by faculty, staff, and students, he led his school and many of its programs to prominence on a national scale. Read about Steven’s legacy at FIT—and the scholarships set up in his honor by the Bakers and by the Frumkin family.
Then there is Larry Leeds, our extraordinarily generous and devoted foundation board director, whose matching gift allowed us to reach $100,000 on our very first Giving Day. You can learn what inspired him—and countless others in the community.
The power of collective action is evident in the FIT Circle, a group of friends of the college who raise funds and create opportunities, leveraging their own expertise in a range of professions and fields to connect our students to the creative economy. By joining together, they make all of us stronger.
So yes, that jewel of an American tradition—philanthropy—is alive and well at FIT. And because of that—and despite exceptional travails of recent years—the FIT community prevailed. To all of you who took part in this great American tradition, I offer my most sincere thanks—and hope that you found, as Maya Angelou did, that “among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”