First Generation Scholarship Fund Receives Support with STEM Focus

Latika and Rajiv Jain Charitable FoundationLatika and Rajiv Jain Charitable Foundation

Rajiv Jain, chief investment officer of Vontobel Asset Management, is one of many donors who understand the growing importance of preparing students to pursue careers in the STEM field, particularly students who will be the first in their families to earn a college degree – which is more than 50% of FIU’s undergraduate student body.

To enhance FIU’s capacity to educate and train these students, Rajiv has recently supported the First Generation Scholarship Fund with a $300,000 gift. Including 100% state matching funds, the gift will result in a total impact of $600,000.

Funds will be designated for scholarships benefiting first generation students currently pursuing degrees in eight majors from the STEM disciplines, which include statistics, mathematics, physics, environmental studies, computer & information science, information technology, chemistry, and biology. Scholarship recipients will be recognized as Latika and Rajiv Jain First Generation Scholars.

“[Support for first generation students] impacts the part of the society that actually can move the needle. That’s where the most help is needed…. That’s what got [my wife, Latika, and I] excited, so we thought we should get more involved there,” said Rajiv, one of the world’s foremost financial experts and fund managers.

“The focus is also on the STEM side because that’s where the bulk of the job creation is going on,” he said.

Rajiv, whose initial involvement with FIU began with his ties to the Jain community and the Jain Education and Research Foundation, also said this gift would help him accomplish one of his goals at FIU: to get the word out about supporting first generation students.

To date, FIU has awarded more than $5.5 million in critical financial support to nearly 7,640 first generation FIU students. In 2012, the university received more than $1.4 million for the First Generation Scholarship Fund and surpassed the state match challenge for the second year in a row. FIU is currently ranked second among Florida’s 11 state universities for first generation fundraising.

Long-term Impact

“Latika and I believe strongly that education has the best long-term impact on any family,” said Rajiv, whose father was able to go to college because of the scholarship support he received.

“If just one individual from that family is able to go to college, it could actually change the dynamics completely for a big group of people. The ripple effect could be tremendous.”

Rajiv points out that FIU is uniquely positioned to impact first generation students that other institutions may not reach otherwise, and he encourages those who are financially able to help close the gap for support.

“There’s a significant number of people who wouldn’t be able to go to FIU if not for these kinds of scholarships. The need has gone up and the funding gap is increasing. It’s important for people who have the ability to step up to see how we can make sure there’s some sort of a safety net,” he said.

“Even for a relatively small amount, you can make a difference in a family’s future.”

FIU Foundation, Inc.

About FIU Foundation, Inc.

The Florida International University Foundation, Inc. (FIU Foundation) was established in 1969 to encourage, solicit, receive and administer gifts for scientific, educational and charitable purposes for the advancement of Florida International University and its objectives. (more +)

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