The University of California system, including UCLA, on Sept. 18 began a six-week social media campaign — Promise for Education — that aims to engage students, faculty, alumni, celebrities, businesses, politicians and supporters in a novel drive to raise money for UCLA and UC student scholarships.
The Promise for Education model is simple. People make a personal promise — for example, to run a marathon, adopt a pet, volunteer, tap dance at the next office party — and set a crowd-funding goal ($1,000, $5,000, $10,000 or more). Then they share their promise through Facebook 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 donations 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 greater 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 ongoing Project You Can campaign, a system-wide effort to raise $1 billion for student support through 2014. To date, the campaign has raised more than $700 million.
"Promise for Education taps the power of social media to raise much-needed funds for student scholarships here at UCLA and across the UC system," said Rhea Turteltaub, vice chancellor for external affairs at UCLA. "This new initiative will ignite new forms of giving, particularly among our undergraduates and young alumni. With over 100,000 alumni under the age of 32, we need to spark their charitable inclinations in more contemporary ways. Promise for Education helps us expand our culture of philanthropy across the generations at UCLA."
UCLA alumni who have graduated within the past five years will receive emails Sept. 19 and twice more before the Oct. 31 end of the program, encouraging them to make a promise and garner support for need-based student scholarships at UCLA and in the UC system.
Angela Sanchez, a recent UCLA graduate who also is an accomplished magician, announced her Promise for Education goal at the UC Regents meeting today at UC San Francisco: "I promise to raise funds for my fellow UC students by assembling a 24-hour magic marathon."
Sanchez said that UCLA encouraged her academic study of the history of magic, and that "it is both fun and fitting that I should now give back to the university that nurtured [that interest]. Promise for Education is a thrilling proposition because it … reaffirms that the UCs are schools for the public and are sponsored for everyday people like you and me."
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block is also participating in the program with a goal of personally raising $10,000. Block promised to host a special reception — and lead a rousing UCLA eight-clap — for anyone who donates $500 to help him reach his goal.
Celebrities and other notables have also expressed support for Promise for Education. Among those who have made promises are Gov. Jerry Brown; actors Jamie Foxx, David Spade, Wilmer Valderrama, Sasha Alexander and Gabrielle Union; NBA player Matt Barnes; musician George Watsky; filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke; and members of the UC Board of Regents. Their promises will be highlighted in public service announcements that also encourage others to participate.
"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 partner at United Talent Agency and vice chair of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which has 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 Inc., a creative agency focused on engaging 18-to-34-year-olds. Numerous sponsors are supporting Promise for Education, including Facebook, Bank of America and Muzik, the creators of the world's first smart headphone.