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With race relations front and center, Florida Poly launches African-American student scholarship

The scholarship will allow black students to pursue STEM education.

Florida Polytechnic University is launching a new scholarship for African American students pursuing degrees in STEM fields, a timely endeavor as the nation fixates on sweeping protests aimed at eradicating racial injustice and police brutality.

The Frank T. Martin Single Year Scholarship, established through the American Public Transportation Foundation, is available to prospective black students in engineering, transportation, computer science or engineering.

The scholarship is available to attend Florida Poly, Tennessee State University or Fisk University in Nashville, the latter two of which are historically black colleges.

The scholarship’s namesake, Martin, attended both Tennessee schools.

“The purpose of this scholarship is for persons of color to have better representation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields,” Martin said. “It is a way to increase their credentials and become skilled professionals, fully prepared to compete for high-paying jobs.”

Martin is an inaugural Florida Poly Trustee and former Board of Governors member who has worked for decades to improve higher education and public transportation.

He currently serves the executive director and CEO of the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority in Birmingham, Alabama, and president of Frank T. Martin Consult, LLC.

Martin’s tenure with Florida Poly ends July 15, but he remains committed to making an impact by helping others pursue their educational goals.

“Education is the key to open the door,” said Martin, who previously served on the APTF board and the board of directors of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). “I want to make sure that we provide opportunities for African Americans to get the undergraduate and graduate degrees with the right skills and education they’ll need to succeed.”

“I call it paying civic rent – getting involved in organizations throughout my professional career,” Martin continued. “It’s always been something I’ve done and it’s something that can make a difference within a community.”

Added Don Wilson, chair of the Florida Poly Board of Trustees: “Frank and I served together as Florida Poly Trustees for eight years and his longstanding commitment to the Board has been tremendous,” Wilson said. “We are deeply grateful for his impactful work for the University, and know his expertise and leadership in education has paved the way for students throughout the state to have better opportunities and future success.”

Interested donors can contribute to the scholarship fund here. Students can apply here.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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