The University of California today (Sept. 18) began Promise for Education, a six-week crowd-funding campaign to engage students, faculty, alumni, celebrities, businesses, politicians and supporters in a novel drive to raise money for UC student scholarships.
The Promise for Education model is simple. People make a personal promise — run a marathon, adopt a pet, volunteer, tap dance at the next office party — and set a fundraising goal ($50, $100, $1,000 or more). Then they share their promise through Facebook, email and other social media channels. Their friends and followers are directed to PromiseforEducation.org , where donations can be made to see the promise fulfilled. All funds go directly to scholarships and grants for UC undergraduates with financial need.
Finding creative new ways to increase private support for UC has taken on increasing importance in recent years as state funding has been dramatically cut. Students currently contribute more to the cost of their education than does the state. Promise for Education is the latest addition to the university’s Project You Can campaign, a systemwide effort to raise $1 billion for student support through 2014. To date, the campaign has raised more than $700 million.
“As stewards of one of the world’s premier public university systems, we have a duty to make an excellent education accessible to all eligible Californians,” said Daniel M. Dooley, UC systemwide senior vice president for external relations. “We’ve established this program to ensure UC’s doors continue to remain open to the next generation’s leaders and to underscore the role we all play in helping young people achieve their aspirations and in advancing California’s culture of innovation and civic engagement.”
Promise for Education already has garnered the participation of such celebrities and notables as Gov. Jerry Brown; Jamie Foxx; David Spade; Matt Barnes; Wilmer Valderrama; Gabrielle Union; Sasha Alexander; filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke; rapper and spoken word poet Watsky; Mike Love, lead singer of the iconic California band the Beach Boys; and members of the UC Board of Regents. Public service announcements will highlight promises and encourage participation.
“Promise for Education is about championing a cause and committing to a goal, which is something the creative community values dearly,” said Jay Sures, a UCLA alumnus who is a managing partner of United Talent Agency and vice-chair of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a charitable organization that collaborated on the campaign and helped rally the Hollywood community in support of UC. “By making a simple promise, together we can help deserving Californians pursue their goal of a world-class UC education and support our future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Promise for Education was created in partnership with noise, a creative agency focused on engaging 18- to 34-year-olds. Numerous sponsors are supporting Promise for Education, including Facebook, Bank of America, Spotify and muzik, the creators of the SmartHeadPhone.
“We are excited that Facebook can play a role in supporting an innovative program like Promise for Education,” said Libby Leffler, strategic partner manager, Facebook. “Millions of college students and alumni use Facebook every day. We're thrilled that our platform provides the opportunity for supporters of Promise for Education to share their passion and commitment to the University of California.”
“Helping low- and moderate-income students to become tomorrow’s leaders with a world-class UC education is a goal we all share,” said Janet Lamkin, Bank of America’s California president. “As an extension of our longstanding partnership with the University of California on business, agricultural, environmental and other programs, we’re proud to partner with the university on the Promise for Education campaign.”
The dollars raised by Promise for Education will provide scholarships to undergraduate students from California who have a demonstrated financial need. They will supplement aid these students receive through UC’s traditional financial aid programs. To make a promise or to learn more, visit promiseforeducation.org  or follow on Facebook  at facebook.com/PromiseForEducation.