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Fueled by record donations, University Foundation provides unprecedented support to Sac State programs

Strategic investments and a surplus of travel and other funds unused during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed the University Foundation to provide $700,000 in funding to projects that support key University priorities. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep)

Campus programs that address domestic violence, pay STEM students to conduct research, and help former foster youth thrive are among  the initiatives that have received an unprecedented boost from the University Foundation at Sacramento State.

The Foundation, the University’s philanthropic arm, recently distributed $700,000 in funding to projects that align with Sac State’s top priorities. The one-time grants were made possible because of record gifts to the University, strategic investments, and a surplus of travel and other funds that went unused during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Foundation board Chair Tina Treis.

“We had funds available because of the pandemic, and we wanted to make sure the money went back to the campus,” she said. “We chose programs that would have a positive impact on our students and our community.”

The Foundation, led by a volunteer board of directors composed of community and business leaders, raises donations and invests on behalf of the University. Its assets total a record $97 million for scholarships and program support, Treis said.

“We have a fabulous Advancement team, and each year we are growing our assets,” she said. “We’re thrilled about that.”

The University is benefiting from good returns on investments and an increasingly glowing public image, which has translated to more and larger gifts, Treis said.

In particular, she added, Sac State’s steadily improving graduation rates and recent national accolades for its diversity and other initiatives are helping fuel enthusiasm for the University.

“It’s clear that President Nelsen and the administration, faculty, and staff are 100% behind student success,” she said. “As fundraisers, it makes things really exciting. We have a lot to talk about.”

Sac State is in the midst of an ambitious comprehensive fundraising effort, On the Rise: The Campaign for Sacramento State, which seeks to raise $225 million by 2023 to increase student support and advance its teaching and research missions.

The campaign is progressing “very well,” Treis said.

“We are fortunate to have a Foundation board whose members care so deeply for our campus that, given a year where we saw a large reduction in expenses due to COVID, they decided to invest those funds back into the University. They are giving back to Sac State.” - Lisa Cardoza, vice president for University Advancement

Among the nine grant proposals the Foundation recently funded is a program to reduce domestic violence by implementing prevention programs in Sacramento County. Sac State trainers will serve as educators and “peace ambassadors,” providing information and outreach to survivors, offenders, and children exposed to domestic violence.

“This program will be a gift that keeps on giving,” creating a more peaceful culture in areas of need, Treis said. It is an example of Sac State’s efforts to make a difference across the region and beyond, she said.

Other funded initiatives will address peer mentoring on campus; provide scholarships for veterans and older students; fund student research in STEM fields; offer support to former foster youth to increase their graduation numbers; fund workshops and other resources for Asian Pacific Islander students; pay for Nursing students to conduct CPR training; and increase the number of young men of color who graduate in a timely manner.

In addition to recently funding these projects, the Foundation contributed $30,000 to the new Anchor University mini-grants initiative, and $20,000 to provide graduation stoles at this year’s CARmencement celebration.

Lisa Cardoza, vice president for University Advancement, said recipients enthusiastically welcomed the unexpected funding support.

“We are fortunate to have a Foundation board whose members care so deeply for our campus that, given a year where we saw a large reduction in expenses due to COVID, they decided to invest those funds back into the University,” Cardoza said. “They are giving back to Sac State.”

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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