A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence has now achieved a total of $1.087 billion in commitments, more than 2/3 of the way to its overall goal of $1.6 billion.
For the second year in a row, Penn State supporters have broken the University’s record for fundraising results, committing $372,555,732 to its current campaign, A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence—an increase of 3.1 percent over last year. That total, which came from 221,263 donors, marks the third consecutive year that the University has raised more than $300 million in new commitments. Penn State’s leaders credit these results to the enthusiasm of alumni and friends for the campaign’s vision, which is closely tied to the institution’s strategic plan.
“This University was founded to serve the public through education, teaching, and research, and A Greater Penn State represents our continued commitment to that mission in an era of rapid change and global connections,” said President Eric J. Barron. “I am profoundly grateful to the donors who have invested in our students, faculty and programs through gifts to the campaign, and to the volunteers who set a powerful example through their own support and service. The philanthropic response from our alumni and friends is a resounding vote of confidence in our vision for Penn State’s future and the strategic plan that supports that vision.”
Earlier this year, Penn State became one of only eleven universities nationwide—including top-ranked public and private institutions—to secure $1 billion or more in three consecutive fundraising campaigns. The Greater Penn State campaign has now achieved a total of $1.087 billion in commitments, more than 2/3 of the way to its overall goal of $1.6 billion.
Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations, said, “Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have remarkable momentum as we enter the remaining years of the campaign, but we must stay focused on our mission to meet the needs of our students, our communities, and the Commonwealth through philanthropy. Private support is essential in fulfilling our potential for leadership in higher education and beyond.”
Bundy pointed to the success of the Open Doors programs, which provide targeted financial and academic support to students facing a range of challenges in earning their Penn State degrees. Over the last two years, alumni and friends of the University have created more than 545 scholarship endowments for these programs, and there has already been a measurable impact for students. For example, through the Complete Penn State program, the University connected with 339 students who were within 30 credit hours of graduation but were at risk of not completing their degrees for a variety of reasons, both personal and financial. The program sought out these students, some of whom had already left Penn State, and offered the specific resources they needed, from financial aid to academic advising, to earn their degrees. Of those 339 students, 332 are now on track to graduate by the end of the fall 2019 semester thanks to the Complete Penn State program, including many who received donor-funded scholarships secured during this campaign.
Scholarships and other forms of direct support to students will continue to be priorities as A Greater Penn State continues, said Rick Sokolov, volunteer chair of the campaign’s executive committee. Fundraising will also focus on research in areas ranging from human health to resource security and on the creation of a new University Art Museum as part of Penn State’s continuing vision to serve and interact with its students, alumni, and community in new ways.
Another signature initiative of the campaign is its focus on economic development in the Commonwealth, and the University continues to offer matching funds for gifts that supporting the LaunchBoxes, Penn State’s business incubators and entrepreneurship education centers located in the communities that host each of the institution’s 21 Commonwealth campuses, as well as numerous other specific economic development initiatives. Part of the Invent Penn State initiative announced by Barron in 2015, the LaunchBoxes have already supplied the necessary tools for 1,792 entrepreneurs to grow their business plans, along with the development of 170 new products, the establishment of 45 Pennsylvania companies, the creation of 424 jobs and internships and the engagement of 5,049 faculty, students and staff. Three LaunchBoxes have received $1 million naming endowments, matched by University funds, through the Greater Penn State campaign: the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, the Altoona LaunchBox supported by the Hite Family, and the Hazleton LaunchBox supported by Pasco L. Schiavo, Esq.
“We are proud of the campaign’s success to date, because we see firsthand that philanthropy increasingly provides the ability to differentiate great institutions—those that innovate and lead—from others,” Sokolov said. ” The generosity of our supporters, the hard work of our development staff and volunteers, and the leadership of President Barron and the Board of Trustees are all essential components of continuing to fulfill the University’s mission in the decades ahead. Fundraising results like the ones we have achieved this year validate all of those efforts, and we thank all Penn Staters for continuing to help move this campaign forward.”