The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 19, 2013

Celebrities join UC online crowdfunding campaign for financial aid

SAN FRANCISCO — In an unusual effort to bolster financial aid for undergraduates, the University of California system this week publicly launched an online crowdfunding campaign that has movie stars, politicians, students and faculty pledging to host parties, lead hikes, sing rap songs and work in soup kitchens to win donations.

The Promise for Education campaign launched Wednesday will last six weeks. It is designed in part to attract donations from young alumni and others who might not respond to more traditional fundraising appeals but may be intrigued by a social media one and donate to a particular person’s activity.

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 Monique from the movie Precious” if his supporters raise $20,000, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys pledged to bring a fan on stage at a concert to sing “Barbara Ann” if a $10,000 target is met.

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.

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