Business Student Raises Over $100,000 For Peers Coming Out of Foster Care

Photo courtesy of Steven Marin

Elizabeth Fernandez/ Assistant News Director


For Steven Marin, the question of where his next meal would be coming from was never on the table. He always had a roof over his head and plenty of opportunities that most people didn’t.

One of those opportunities was playing on a travel basketball team with his friends from private school. This was the first time he played with boys from public schools. Until then, Steven had not seen the differences in his lifestyle versus some of his other teammate’s.

It wasn’t until he went to Tampa for a game with his teammates that he realized the differences. He understood that what brought them together in the first place was their mutual love and dedication to the sport. While he and three other boys settled into their Holiday Inn suite, one of them made a remark that stuck with him for the rest of his life.

“This is heaven,” said Marin’s teammate as he laid out on one of the beds. 

“His words hit me hard. I was stunned. I texted my dad, ‘You have no idea what this kid just told me.’ For the first time, I realized just how much I had taken for granted.” Marin said.

No stranger to nice vacations and the perks of private school, Steven realized how privileged and blessed he is in. Although he was close to his teammate’s, their lives could not be more different. 

His father replied with, “This is the real world. Use the advantages that you have to help others.” 

During the Spring of his freshman year, he met with Sandra Gonzalez, VP of External Relations, to see how he could get more involved at FIU. She told him about Fostering Panther Pride, a program which offers academic and support services to students identified as formerly in foster care or homeless. 

She also told him about the President’s Council and their involvement in raising money for this program.

Marin’s goal was to raise $100,000 for the program. He sought out donations from local business owners, politicians, and professional athletes within the community. 

“Each year, over the past three years, I would email different people that I knew within the community to meet with them in person and try my best in order to get as many people as I could to donate and help out this program in any way.” he said.

He would talk to potential donors about how their money would directly impact the lives of the students that benefit from this program; how he wants these fellow classmates to be afforded the same college experience that he was. 

“At the beginning I wanted to prove that I could truly make a difference for my classmates because no one really expected this. So I wanted to, first off, actually make a major difference in this program and also show students that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.” he said.

 Because of his efforts, some students won’t have to worry about housing or their next meal while attending FIU. 

Steven is currently going into his senior year, working as a data analyst full-time, and continues to enjoy basketball at his leisure. Although his efforts could be seen as philanthropic, he says he doesn’t plan on going into philanthropy, but rather become an entrepreneur and be a leader in the community.  

“During this time, I have gotten to know a number of the students who benefit from the program. They are the ones, not I, who deserve recognition. They are the ones who have come from homelessness and are today making the grades and thriving. They are the ones doing the work. I’m just helping.” he said.

He received recognition for his contribution to Fostering Panther Pride from Florida Commissioner Estaban L. Bovo on July 23, 2019.