The University of California is launching an unusual new online fundraising effort — with an assist from celebrities — that's designed to attract donations from young alumni and others who may respond to social media.
The six-week Promise for Education campaign will have movie stars, politicians, students and faculty pledging to host parties, lead hikes, sing rap songs and work in soup kitchens to win donations.
Among the well-known participants so far are Jamie Foxx, the Academy Award-winning actor, who promised to "rap a song like Bill Clinton, President Obama and Mo'Nique from the movie 'Precious'" if his supporters raise $20,000; and Mike Love of the Beach Boys, who pledged to bring a fan onstage at a concert to sing "Barbara Ann" if a $10,000 target is met.
By Thursday morning, Foxx's pledge had raised $10,000.
Gov. Jerry Brown, with a $10,000 goal, said he will host a brown-bag lunch with a student from each University of California campus. For smaller amounts, student activists promised to clean beaches, serve at food kitchens for the homeless and, in the case of student regent Cinthia Flores, dress like Superwoman for a day.
Officials said about $900,000 has been given or pledged already, mainly in more traditional ways: large donations from businesses and UC regents, along with $400,000 from the estate of a New York state history teacher, Abraham Trop, whose three children attended UC.
But organizers say they particularly want gifts from people who may never have donated before and might become lifelong UC supporters.
"The beauty of this idea is the democratization of fundraising. We're trying to get everybody involved," said UC Regent Sherry Lansing, a former movie industry executive who helped organize the effort and recruited some of her entertainment contacts to get involved. Her promise is to work at a movie theater concession stand if her goal of $5,000 is reached.
Whatever money is raised will supplement the nearly $700 million a year in financial aid UC undergraduates receive from the university and private sources, not including federal and other state aid. Donors can direct money to a particular campus for need-based aid or to a UC-wide fund, according to a presentation during the UC regents meeting in San Francisco.