Westly Foundation Gift Supports UC Merced Students, Alumni

Donation will help train students to be future donors

MERCED - The University of California, Merced, has received a $50,000 gift from the Westly Foundation that will help increase access to a college education for financially needy students and establish a class gift-matching program.

The Westly Foundation, a private family foundation that provides education and health care services for children and underserved communities throughout California, has pledged $25,000 to launch the Westly Foundation Class Gift Challenge, and $25,000 to the Westly Foundation Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund to provide need-based scholarships for UC Merced students.

"Merced will be the epicenter of the Central Valley's spectacular growth in the coming decades," Steve Westly, founder of the Westly Foundation and CEO of the Westly Group. "We are seeding the intellectual capital of the Valley by funding the higher education of low-income scholars and by encouraging UC Merced alumni to become donors - essentials to the success of a modern research university."

Each year, UC Merced's graduating class joins together to give back to the campus. In an effort to inspire generosity and participation, the Westly Foundation Class Gift Challenge will match every graduate's contribution toward the class gift dollar for dollar for the next five years.
The Class of 2006 donated an aquarium for the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, and last year's class is working with an artist to design a bronze bobcat sculpture to be displayed prominently on campus. The Class of 2008 will announce their gift to the university at the commencement ceremony May 23.

"The Westly Foundation's generous gift will help encourage our graduates to begin a lifetime of involvement with the university," said John Garamendi Jr., vice chancellor for University Relations. "We want to educate our graduates about giving back and to inspire them to take meaningful action in furthering the campus' future."

Through the Westly Foundation Alumni Scholarship Fund, the foundation hopes to demonstrate the impact that one gift can make on a student's collegiate experience. The scholarship is designated to be awarded annually to an undergraduate student. The criteria for the award will be determined by UC Merced's Office of Financial Aid.

"Thanks to this generous donation, we're able to provide much needed scholarship funding for our students," Garamendi said.

The Westly Foundation was established in 2000 by former state controller, Steve Westly, and his wife, Anita Yu. The foundation provides support in the areas of education, youth, health care, immigration and global security. For more information, visit www.westly.org.

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