In its first-ever crowdfunding campaign, the UCLA Alumni Association’s push to raise $250,000 for student scholarships and support through UCLA Spark ended up surpassing that goal by generating 839 gifts totaling $447,800.

Albert Lemus

During the successful monthlong campaign in March, 17 regional, affinity, diversity and student groups, led by 54 dedicated alumni volunteers, participated. Each team developed its own goals and customized its own microsite with stories, photos and videos about its scholarships and scholars. Alumni volunteers used social media posts, emails and personal appeals in the effort. 

“Bruins care deeply about UCLA and have a lot of pride in our alma mater,” said Albert Lemus, president of the UCLA Alumni Association Board. And this was an opportunity to increase alumni giving, he said. “Efforts to bring about that change — the UCLA Alumni Spark campaign and the new membership program — help us to accomplish that goal and demonstrate how much our alumni value this institution and our alumni legacy.”

Victoria Dolan

Gold Shield Alumnae of UCLA, one of the first groups to reach its goal, raised funds for scholarships for incoming transfer students from California Community Colleges.

A recently formed alumni group from the Conejo Valley used the opportunity to bring its efforts to endow a scholarship in perpetuity to a wider audience. In the final two days of the campaign, members pushed to reach their goal of $10,000 and took advantage of a $5,000 challenge gift. 

Among the hundreds of contributors were first-time donors who said they appreciated being made aware of the wide offering of scholarships to students. “I am fortunate to be a Bruin, and I hope that we can support current and future students in their endeavors to have that experience,” said Sean Fox.

Corey Sanders

The campaign ended at 150 percent of the goal, thanks to notable gifts from Victoria Dolan, who donated $25,000 to the Washington, D.C., Area Network Scholarship, and Corey Sanders, who contributed $250,000 to the Las Vegas Network Scholarship. Dolan is vice president and corporate controller for the Colgate-Palmolive Company. She also serves on the UCLA Centennial Campaign Committee for the New York region. Sanders is chief operating officer of MGM Resorts International.

The value of this effort was best summarized by campaign donor Melinda Silva, who received an alumni scholarship when she was a student.

"One of the greatest experiences I learned from UCLA was the importance of community and giving,” said Silva. “As a past Alumni Scholar, I am grateful for the generosity of those before me and know what I choose to give will benefit future Bruins. My oldest son graduated UCLA in 2015, and my second son has just started. I am so proud that we are part of UCLA's great legacy. How we value education is imperative and demonstrates what we prioritize as important in our life."  

The funds raised are part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.