SAN FRANCISCO—On September 18, the University of California launched Promise for Education, an innovative online crowd-funding campaign that harnesses social media to raise scholarship money for students in need.
“We’re never going to go back to the good old days of state funding,” Dianne Klein, spokesperson for the University of California, told Canyon News. “Innovation,” she said, “is the future of public education funding.”
Looking for new ways to engage and raise private support, the University of California (UC) introduced its six-week-long crowd-funding campaign that is the first higher education program of its kind.
The campaign asks any interested individual, company, or group to make a promise that they’ll fulfill if they reach their crowd-funding goal. Participants then share their promise with friends on social network sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, to gather contributions. Anyone can make a donation towards a promise they wish to see come true at promiseforeducation.org, and all proceeds go directly to UC student scholarships.
The campaign website encourages students, alumni, UC fans, celebrities and concerned citizens alike to get involved and come up with fun, creative campaign promises. Promise examples include bungee jumping at the L.A. County Fair, wearing a cow suit for an entire week, eating vegetarian for a year and performing a choreographed dance in public.
Notable endorsements include Jamie Foxx, Governor Jerry Brown, Gabrielle Union and Matt Barnes. Jamie Foxx is featured in the home page campaign video and “promises to rap a song like Bill Clinton, President Obama and Monique from the movie ‘Precious.’” His promise page so far has raised over half of his $20,000 crowd-funding goal.
Another top promise is from California Governor Jerry Brown who said he “promises to host a ‘Brown Bag’ lunch at my office in Sacramento with a student from each UC campus” if his promise page hits the $10,000 mark.
Klein said the university is hoping the novel campaign will “raise enthusiasm and create a democratized form of fundraising” to combat the state cutting almost $1 billion worth of university funding in the past five years.
The state, which used to cover 78 percent of a UC student’s educational costs, now only covers 39 percent, making last year the first time in history students and their families had to pay more than the state for their public education. Priding itself with “offering a world-class public education to any student who works hard and dreams big…regardless of income,” the Promise for Education campaign is fighting to preserve this valued UC principle.
The campaign is part of the larger UC Project You Can, a system-wide effort by all 10 campuses that aims to raise $1 billion for student support through 2014. The University of California, which according to U.S. News enrolls more low-income students than any other top-25 ranked university in the United States, has raised $671 million through Project You Can as of February 2013.
The Promise for Education experiment so far has raised over $880,000 in six days and still has another 37 days to go. Klein said the university will likely do another online campaign, but cannot say exactly what it will look like yet. As for the future of public education funding, Klein asserts “this is the new normal.”
Crowd-funding is defined as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet” by Oxford Dictionaries online.
Visit promiseforeducation.org to make a promise or to learn more.
By Amanda Macke