CARTA alumna’s gift will help minority-owned small businesses thrive

Silvana Massolo '04

Silvana Massolo ’04 has made a quarter-million dollar commitment to support FIU alumni-owned businesses    

A new and uncommon opportunity will soon be available to budding alumni entrepreneurs in the communication, art and design fields. With a gift from Silvana Massolo ’04, College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) alumni will have the opportunity to apply for grants to invest in their startups or small businesses, with preference given to minority-owned ventures.

The Silvana Massolo Entrepreneurs Grant is one of only a handful of endowments at FIU that benefit alumni and is the first of its kind at CARTA.

A graduate of CARTA’s mass communications program, Massolo’s mission has long been to help small businesses succeed. And she’s no stranger to the startup world.

Knowing many don’t have the resources to hire major marketing firms, and with more than 15 years of experience working for major advertising agencies, Massolo launched her own agency in 2017. Her goal was to help businesses establish themselves as leaders within their categories and increase sales via cost effective digital and social media marketing.

The Bloom Agency, previously known as Advertising Addicts, began as a part-time venture while Massolo was still working in the agency setting full-time. After a few years, she took the leap and became her own boss. The decision didn’t come without personal sacrifice, but it paid off in the end. She now works with small businesses across the United States.

“The entirety of the investment required to launch my business came out of my pocket,” Massolo said. Those early days are what inspired her to create the grant.

Massolo believes in the value of hard work. As the daughter of immigrants from Peru, she learned a strong work ethic watching her family build a new life in the United States. She hopes the grant will serve as both a reward for hard work and a boost to ensure minority-owned businesses thrive.

“I’m passionate about small businesses and understand the sacrifices and dedication it takes to succeed in a competitive marketplace,” said Massolo. “This grant will help empower and alleviate some of the financial strain other FIU alumni may be facing as they grow their business.”

CARTA Dean Brian Schriner said he is grateful for Massolo’s support. “Silvana is a proud FIU alumna who leads by example through her commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. Her generosity is helping ensure past and future, like-minded CARTA Panthers have the opportunity to succeed in achieving their dreams.”

Massolo remains actively involved in FIU as an alumna, including leading the former Dallas-based alumni chapter. In October, Massolo appeared as a guest speaker in the FIU Alumni Association’s Facebook Live series “Shift Happens: Taking Your Career to the Next Level,” where she shared tips on optimizing your digital footprint for a successful job hunt.

She believes it’s important for alumni to find ways to give back to FIU, whether through their time, talent or treasure. She initially donated her time as a student by volunteering for FIU’s phone-a-thon program, where she had the opportunity to speak with alumni all over the country. She was also involved around campus and in community service as a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.

“I was always interested in the relationship alumni have with FIU, even as a student,” Massolo said. She offered this advice to other alumni who may be interested in giving back: “Why not empower one another? Your relationship with FIU doesn’t have to end when you graduate. If you want change, you have to be the change.”

“Silvana has really made it her mission as an alumna to support FIU, its students and her fellow alumni,” said Sara DuCuennois, assistant vice president for Alumni Affairs at FIU. “This grant program is her brainchild, and we are excited and grateful to work with her to support alumni entrepreneurs’ dreams.”

Massolo made her quarter-million dollar gift through FIU’s unique Pathway to Philanthropist program, which makes establishing an endowment more accessible to aspiring philanthropists. The program’s gift structure combines a contribution to immediately support programmatic or scholarship needs with funding to establish an endowment and a planned gift to ensure the endowment’s impact continues, creating a lasting legacy for the donor.

The first Silvana Massolo Entrepreneurs grants are expected to be awarded in Spring 2022. Application information is forthcoming.