Anaya Johnson, doctoral candidate in marine biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and an Invent the Future fellowship recipient.

Charitable Support

In fiscal year 2009–10, UC San Diego asked for generous support and the donor community responded with a resounding yes. The stellar outcome included raising $147.4 million in private support for the university. Invent the Future: The UC San Diego Student Support Campaign achieved $17 million in commitments during the year, and a visionary $75 million leadership gift was made by Irwin and Joan Jacobs to enable the medical center construction project to go forward.


As UC San Diego continued to struggle with the global recession and severe state budget cuts in fiscal year 2009–10, the university held fast to its primary focus: educating talented and ambitious students to become tomorrow’s innovative leaders and problem solvers. Invent the Future: The UC San Diego Student Support Campaign, a three-year, $50 million fund-raising effort, was launched in fall 2009 to help UC San Diego stay competitive in attracting outstanding graduate and undergraduate students to campus.

The goal for year one was to raise $15 million—a substantial increase in funds for scholarships and fellowships over the previous year. Remarkably in a recession year, the university surpassed that goal by securing more than $17 million in campaign commitments for undergraduate scholarships and graduate student fellowships.

At the undergraduate level, more than 50 percent of all students need financial assistance. To improve access for future innovators and leaders and to compete with other top public universities, UC San Diego needs three times the current level of its scholarship funding. The Invent the Future campaign will help support undergraduates with merit, need-based, and research scholarships.

Only 16 percent of UC San Diego graduate students receive fellowships, making it difficult for UC San Diego to compete with peer institutions. Students must often choose the college that offers the highest level of support.


“Great universities fuel the economy, spark medical and research breakthroughs, and drive the excellence of the country. By supporting students now, we are establishing the underpinnings for the future.” —Richard Atkinson
Rita and Richard Atkinson

A $5.7 MILLION GIFT from Rita and Richard Atkinson in September 2010 to support fellowships for UC San Diego graduate students was the largest commitment to date for Invent the Future: The UC San Diego Student Support Campaign. The gift established the Rita L. Atkinson Graduate Fellowship Fund, which provides scholarships for graduate students engaged in interdisciplinary studies in science and related fields leading to doctoral degrees at UC San Diego. Richard Atkinson was UC San Diego’s chancellor from 1980 to 1995 and was president of the University of California system from 1995 to 2003.

Major Gifts to Invent the Future, 2009–10


UC San Diego is one of the youngest of the top-ranking public universities in the nation. As the campus celebrates its 50th Anniversary, it is supported in part by a powerful network of alumni that is no longer too small or too young to make a difference. Many of these individuals are at the forefront of business, research, the arts, social innovation, and political service in California, throughout the nation, and increasingly across the world. The mission of the UCSD Alumni Association is to foster a lifelong, mutually beneficial relationship of alumni and students with UC San Diego.


A big tent was not just a location but a metaphor, when the UCSD Alumni Association celebrated its 32nd Awards Banquet in 2010 in a tent large enough to hold a group that is expanding exponentially. To reach out to more alumni, the association has honed its communications, segmented its alumni markets, and added a large variety of affinity groups, clubs, and faculty lectures to its offerings. The latest step, in 2010, was to reevaluate its membership criteria and open its doors without charge to each and every alumnus—or a group of more than 130,000 members.

The UCSD Alumni Association also works with current students to create a culture of philanthropy and service—and a lifelong tradition of giving back. The Alumni Discovery Initiative, launched in 2009, is a student-led effort to reach thousands of alumni annually who are currently not engaged with the campus.

Student ambassadors from the association meet face-to-face or by phone with hundreds of alumni, interview these individuals, and bring back narratives about their backgrounds. An interview typically focuses on life since graduation, memories of UC San Diego, and how best to reconnect with the school. This innovative approach aims to generate new donors, new leaders, new volunteers, and new advocates from a diverse group of alumni—and ensure that UC San Diego remains world-class.


“Our mission is to instill in students a tradition of giving back that they will continue throughout
their lives.” —Geoff Honda, 2010–11 UCSD Student Foundation President
Geoff Honda

WHILE THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN is hurting philanthropic organizations throughout the nation, UCSD Student Foundation members have defied the odds. Fiscal year 2009–10 was one of the student foundation’s most successful years since its establishment in 1999.

The organization awarded more than $12,000 through eight scholarships and one “vision grant.” More than 800 seniors gave to the Senior Class Gift, raising more than $24,000 for future scholarships. Additionally, the student foundation’s total return on its endowment was 11.9 percent.

The UCSD Student Foundation is the first organization of its kind in the University of California system and one of just a few in the nation. The program provides an opportunity for students to learn firsthand what it takes to run a foundation, the importance of philanthropy, and the realities of investing and fundraising.

The UCSD Student Foundation recently expanded its stewardship program. Students who donate have the opportunity to become members of Society Sixty, a student donor appreciation group that receives special benefits from the UCSD Alumni Association and student foundation.


For the class of 2010, giving back began even before the students received their diplomas.

More than 1,200 graduates, nearly one-quarter of the 2010 graduating class, made a gift of $20.10 each as part of a special gift campaign to support student scholarships at UC San Diego. This year’s Senior Class Challenge event brought in more than $24,000, a 40 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking challenge gifts of more than $17,000.

Each year, graduating seniors are encouraged to pay it forward by supporting scholarships for the next generation of students. The UC San Diego Student Foundation is responsible for these fund-raising efforts.


Since graduating in 1999 from UC San Diego with degrees in Spanish literature and political science, Christopher Yanov has been reaching out to high-risk youth who want to change their lives. As founder and executive director of Reality Changers, he helps highly motivated inner-city high school students in San Diego find the academic and financial resources they need to become the first in their families to attend college. Founded in 2001 with just $300, the program has since assisted more than 200 students and helped them obtain more than $10 million in scholarships from a variety of sources.

One of these students is Jorge Narvaez, the single father of two daughters and a full-time UC San Diego student pursuing ethnic studies, photography, and literature with the support of a Chancellor’s Scholarship. Through Reality Changers, he participated in the UC San Diego Academic Connections program and took college-level courses while still in high school.


A $600,000 gift from the Sempra Energy Foundation to UC San Diego in 2010 is the largest ever made by the foundation to a nonprofit institution. As lead sponsor of Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s “Boundless Energy” exhibit and education program, Sempra Energy and the Sempra Energy Foundation are partnering with Scripps for an exhibit that focuses on innovative ideas for cleaner, renewable sources of energy. More than two million visitors are expected to visit “Boundless Energy” during its five-year run.


Gifts to UC San Diego have the power to transform individual lives and benefit whole communities. Private support of the university creates scholarships and fellowships, expands academic programs, funds groundbreaking research, supports faculty recruitment and retention, enhances patient care, constructs new buildings, and provides a pool of flexible funds to help UC San Diego meet its highest priority needs. With the support of generous alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends, UC San Diego can continue to deliver the local impact, national influence, and global reach of the region’s leading research university.


The UC San Diego Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to securing and stewarding private gifts that benefit UC San Diego, and serves as trustee for a number of charitable trusts. As of June 30, 2010, the Foundation managed $455 million in diverse financial assets given for endowed or expendable campus purposes.