Gold Shield Alumnae of UCLA is providing $20,000 in funding to help support the new Bruin Excellence and Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST), an innovative grassroots initiative led by a team of UCLA graduate students to provide grants for transformative, student-centered projects that improve campus climate. Gold Shield’s generous commitment constitutes the first gift that BEST has received from an alumni organization.

BEST is an endeavor for the community and by the community, backed by the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In addition to funding student-centered projects, BEST supports project participants with training, ongoing mentorship and logistical support. Leaders of projects competing for these grants recently submitted proposals as part of BEST’s inaugural round of funding.

“Gold Shield has a long history of supporting students and important strategic initiatives for the university," said Karolynne Gee and Mary Miller, co-chairs of the Gold Shield Special Projects Committee, in a statement. "This project brings together both and has the potential to make a real difference in the campus climate. There is genuine excitement among members about embarking on this new endeavor, and Gold Shield is proud to add support for the university’s new BEST initiative.”

Founded in 1936, Gold Shield Alumnae of UCLA is an organization of women who provide service to the university and its community by identifying and helping to meet UCLA’s most pressing needs. Now in its 80th year and 140 members strong, Gold Shield continues to  support the university in myriad ways. Its $3 million endowment provides significant support for scholarships and other university programs.

In 2015, Gold Shield awarded $106,000 in undergraduate alumni scholarships and $15,000 in graduate fellowships for UCLA ethnic studies programs. This year, the organization awarded its 21st Gold Shield Faculty Prize of $30,000 to art history professor Charlene Villaseñor Black for her extraordinary accomplishments in undergraduate teaching, research and university service. Gold Shield was recognized this year as Alumni Network of the Year by the UCLA Alumni Association.