Jaye and Tony Abbate Make a Difference Together

Jaye and Tony Abbate

Jaye and Tony Abbate were destined to be together. They were both passionate to make their community better. It’s only fitting that they joined hands to give back as one.

Jaye had moved to Fort Lauderdale from Chicago and quickly fell in love with South Florida — and it was not just because of the weather. Fort Lauderdale was a relatively small town, and she sensed she could actually make a difference here. Tony, a Florida native, was already working on Second Century Broward’s homeless study. The two met while addressing homeless issues and together were among the early young professionals who founded Covenant House for teens.

Tony had returned to his South Florida home after studying at Catholic University in D.C. and getting his terminal degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. He quickly excelled and received more than 20 awards for design excellence from the American Institute of Architects for architectural and urban design. FAU invited Tony to be on an advisory committee to establish a new school of architecture. The rest is history. Tony joined FAU’s faculty in 1996 and still brags that in its first year the school received an unprecedented six-year accreditation.

Starting a school of architecture was a huge feat, but both Jaye and Tony are comfortable tackling big challenges. They attribute their success to the area’s diversity and to people’s willingness to work together. FAU is a good example. It has grown from a young, two-year commuter school to a four-year university with 180 unique degree programs and almost 30,000 students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. One result of FAU’s growth is that Jaye and Tony are always running into alumni in their travels. “We have met FAU students in Turkey, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as examples. My students stay connected via Facebook. That tells me that what we have here is something special,” Tony said. “Every great city has a great university. We have that with FAU.”

When they worked on their will, it was an easy decision to set aside a gift for the students who follow at FAU. From one perspective, they have no children. From another, they have many. The students at FAU, the teens at Covenant House, youth who use the library and parks and so much more are all part of the Abbate’s family. “Our bequest is really just taking care of our family,” Jaye offered. Jaye and Tony feel strongly that they were put on this earth to make a difference. “I know personally how much it means to receive help with college. Leaving something that can impact future lives just feels right,” Jaye said. Tony agrees. “I have seen how even small gifts have made such a difference. We are not the richest people, but what better way to change lives than through a bequest.” They also feel comfortable that the FAU Foundation is rock solid and will always be there to help deserving students. “We are here to make a difference,” they agree. “We cannot think of a better way.”



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