In the last moments of UConn Gives 2019, the University’s 36-hour fund-raising initiative, Jonathan the Husky and a large crowd of supporters were on hand at Bear’s Smokehouse in Hartford to cheer the incredible results.
UConn Gives 2019 broke all previous records for a University giving initiative. With the help of more than 4,600 members of UConn Nation, the initiative raised more than $400,000, besting last year’s total by more than $130,000.
The initiative highlighted 123 projects to which donors could contribute – including academic and research programs, student groups, athletics, and scholarships. And with a host of thank-you items, social media challenges, and competitions for matching funds, there was something to engage everyone.
The overall leaderboard competition featured a dominating performance from supporters of the Extension Master Gardeners program, which trains people to share their love of horticulture across the community. More than 420 people donated to this fund, including supporters from as far as California, Texas, and Colorado.
Other highly successful projects included the Neag School of Education’s Think About the Link Resources project, which helps teachers and schools link learning and health initiatives to facilitate whole-child success, and the 100% UConn Law Challenge, which completed its second consecutive top-three finish. Each of the top three projects will receive additional challenge funds from the University.
Donors at various levels received argyle socks featuring Jonathan, Husky water bottles, or UConn Gives chocolate-covered cookies. Many found that supporting their favorite aspect of life at UConn was rewarding in itself.
Freshman Nayara Zainadine ’22 (ENG) gave to the SPARK program, which aims to shrink the gender gap in STEM fields. Nayara is both a graduate of the program and a current mentor for others. “I want to show the next generation of women in STEM that engineers break barriers, and they can help break the mold,” she said.
Fred J. Kuo ’95 (CLAS) gave a gift to the M. Kevin Fahey Endowment, which provides scholarship funding to students involved with the Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG). “I always reflect on my time as both a student and an employee,” said Kuo. “My SUBOG years and experiences with orientation and as a residence assistant still play a big role in who I am today as a person and an education professional.”
It’s a family affair for Peter Roisman ’86 JD, who made his UConn Gives gift to the Law School’s Semester in D.C. program: “Simply put, UConn Law School has been very important to the Roisman family. My father Gerald, my wife Emily, our daughter Alexandra, my soon-to-be son-in-law, and I are all UConn Law School graduates.”
The results of UConn Gives 2019 also illustrated how much the University has grown in national prominence over the years. Donations came in from around the world, including contributions from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Serbia, and Norway.
More than 450 students, faculty, and staff at all campuses volunteered to ensure that the initiative went off without a hitch. And employees of the UConn Foundation once again covered the Spirit Rock with the names of donors throughout the 36-hour period.
“We are deeply grateful for the generosity that UConn Nation showed in the span of less than two days,” said Jake Lemon, senior vice president for development. “It’s inspiring to see students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends band together in this way to benefit the University and its programs.”