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From zany to serious, supporters' promises raise dollars to support students



Rachel Corell, director of the UCLA Volunteer Center and a UC San Diego alum, has a proposal for you. If you contribute to her bid to raise $5,000 to provide financial support for UC students, she will deliver 100 volunteers each from UCLA and UC San Diego to complete a day of service to benefit the community.
Sasha Alexander, an actress with TV’s NCIS among her credits, is committed to wearing a UCLA T-shirt in front of the Tommy Trojan statue on the quad at USC if she meets her $5,000 fundraising goal. So far, she needs about $1,200 more before she'll show her UCLA pride on the campus across town.
Then there’s John Cho, the actor who plays Sulu in the new “Star Trek” movies. He made a promise Tuesday that might also hit warp speed and reach its $5,000 goal. Cho, a UC Berkeley alum, promises to take a randomly selected donor who contributes at least $25 to lunch with him and his predecessor, George Takei, a UCLA graduate who played Sulu in the original "Star Trek" show.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has already surpassed his goal to raise $10,000 for UCLA scholarships. So far, 59 people have pledged a total of $10,471 to his effort. For that, he has promised to host a reception at the Chancellor’s Residence and lead a rousing UCLA eight-clap for anyone who donates $250 or more.
Block, Corell, Alexander, Cho and Takei are a few of the nearly 1,000 people who have found creative ways to increase private support for UCLA and UC student scholarships by making a personal promise to fulfill some task through UC's Promise for Education, a crowd-funding campaign that has raised more than $1.1 million for UC undergraduate scholarships since it launched in mid-September.

And although the need for funding far surpasses the total amount raised because state funding to UC and UCLA has been drastically cut in recent years, the campaign speaks to the willingness of individuals to join the cause on a very personal level. All told, more than 3,000 donations, averaging $75 each, have been made, but time is running out. The campaign ends Oct. 31.

“My promise is to do a giant day of service, bringing 100 volunteers from each campus to volunteer in light of the promise to our third pillar of the University of California – public service,” Corell said. “UCSD and UCLA are both extremely committed to service and volunteerism, and, since I have a connection to both, I want to bring my two homes together to give back.”

In Corell’s case, 18 donors have pledged $1,705 “through the support of my friends networks,” bringing her campaign to 34 percent of her goal. And while she’s got a ways to go, she’s already thinking about doing a project around hunger and homelessness, “which is an issue that both cities struggle with, so perhaps a food bank visit or hygiene kit creation session.”


Anne Pautler, UC Promise keeper.

Anne Pautler, director of asset management and content integration at UCLA Marketing and Special Events, has already fulfilled her promise to wear blue-and-gold face paint at the UCLA-Cal football game last week after raising $311.

Promise for Education is the latest addition to UC’s Project You Can campaign, a systemwide effort to raise $1 billion for student support through 2014. To date, the campaign has raised more than $700 million to help students who now contribute more to the cost of their education than does the state, which has cut back funding to UC dramatically in recent years.

The UC Promise campaign “has done a really nice job of lifting the awareness of the important role private philanthropy and scholarships play in ensuring a UC education is accessible and affordable,” said Jason Simon, executive director of marketing communications at the UC Office of the President. “We’ve been especially heartened by how many donors don’t necessarily have a UC connection but understand the role that the university plans in ensuring a strong California.”

One of the wackiest promises comes from UC Irvine School of Social Sciences Dean Bill Maurer and his staff, who are going where no promise has gone before. "Somehow, someone brought up the idea that we can all dress up as the crew of the Enterprise,” said Maurer, a lifelong “Star Trek” fan. “And I said, ‘I love that' … It's sort of corny to say, but people really do believe in the mission, and what better ‘Star Trek' virtue is there than that?"

If Maurer and his team receive $5,000 in donations — they are about a third of the way to their goal — Maurer and four members of his leadership team will go to work for a day dressed as Captain Kirk, Spock and other characters from the original "Star Trek" TV show.

Michael Lairmore, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is committed to racing the winner of the annual Picnic Day Doxie Derby winner while dressed as a dachshund if he hits his $1,000 goal. He’s only $400 short of his goal.

And UC Riverside staff member Adam Daniels promises to eat his greens and raise green for UC scholarships. He'll become a vegetarian for a year if he raises $5,000. He's about a third of the way there.

Other promises run the gamut from physical feats — like dancing for 48 hours straight to doing 20,000 pushups — but they're all rooted in a commitment to support UC and its students.

To learn more, go to to donate and help keep UC's promise to provide an affordable, world-class education to California's students.


View Rachel Corell's video appeal: