Fordham alumna and trustee Meaghan Jarensky Barakett, GSS ’16, and her husband, Brett Barakett, have made a gift of $1 million to establish an endowed scholarship fund at Fordham in memory of their son, Lincoln, and to support two University initiatives.

“When you become a mother, you think of so many things—the world that you’re bringing your child into, that they’re growing up in, and what it’s going to be like. I still think a little bit in that way,” said Meaghan Barakett, whose 2-year-old son died from Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood in 2020. “Brett and I wanted to do something to help make the world a better place—the world that Lincoln would have been living in. And we hope that our scholarship recipients want to do their part to make the world a better place, in their own way.”

The gift, made through the Brett and Meaghan Barakett Foundation this past December, will primarily support the Lincoln Barakett Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide financial aid for students at the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS); preference will be given to first-generation college students and those from economically disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds. The rest of the gift will support the Fordham Founder’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund and the Fordham Fund Trustee Initiative, which provides financial resources for academic programs, student financial aid, and extracurricular initiatives.

“Brett and I believe in doing our part to give back,” said Barakett. “We want to do as much as we can to help support those who are trying to help society as part of GSS and Fordham.”

Barakett is the founder and executive director of One Girl, Inc., a nonprofit that helps young women grow as leaders through charity, advocacy, and community organizing. She is also an anti-cyberbullying advocate who has pushed for passage of the E-Impersonation Prevention Act, New York Senate Bill S5871-A, which would elevate the crime to a felony. In addition, Barakett is a two-time beauty pageant winner who won the Miss New York USA title in 2005 and Mrs. New York America in 2010.

An alumna of Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service with a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership, Barakett has continued to stay involved with the University. In 2016, the same year she graduated from Fordham, her nonprofit, One Girl, and GSS’s Institute for Women & Girls hosted the first “Women in Charge” conference, which turned into an annual event held for several years. In recent years, Barakett has served as a panelist in Fordham’s 2018 Women’s Philanthropy Summit and a member of the President’s Council. Last year, she joined the University’s Board of Trustees.

“Lincoln was my inspiration for everything. He still is. To name something in his honor is an incredible privilege, and it makes me happy to know that Fordham students will be recipients of something that has our son’s name attached to it,” said Barakett. “Hopefully this scholarship fund can help his spirit to live on.”