Financially-strapped Fisk University took a big step in its fundraising efforts with the announcement that it will receive grants totaling $3 million.
The school announced Wednesday that the funds will come from the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which awards grants to historically Black colleges and universities, among several other endeavors. Fisk will receive $1 million up front.
“We have to raise a lot of money, and we thought we should start at a major foundation or two,” Fisk President Hazel O’Leary said.
She has set a goal of raising $6.2 million by June 30 for the school, which is trying to seal a $30 million deal to sell a 50 percent stake in an art collection donated by Georgia O’Keeffe.
The school has been fighting a legal battle since 2005 to try to sell parts of the 101-piece art collection, including O’Keeffe’s 1927 oil painting, “Radiator Building Night, New York,” to help raise money.
A trial is scheduled for February to decide whether Fisk’s agreement to share the collection with the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark., is close enough to O’Keeffe’s wishes to be approved. O’Keeffe died in 1986.
As for the recent grants, O’Leary said the school can receive up to $2 million more if it raises twice that amount in the next six and a half months, meaning the fundraising effort resulting from the grant could total $7 million.
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