Chinese and Chinese American donations to higher education institutions such as UC Berkeley have increased dramatically in recent years, according to a new study by the Global Chinese Philanthropy Initiative, or GCPI.
The study found that both Chinese and Chinese American people contributed to similar causes, such as higher education and the environment, and that the most notable gifts were made specifically to colleges and universities. According to Stewart Kwoh, leader of the GCPI executive committee, the GCPI was founded three years ago and aims to study patterns of Chinese and Chinese American philanthropy.
“(The Chinese and Chinese American people we profiled) truly believed that higher education was the pathway to success, so they really wanted to invest in the school that gave them success,” Kwoh said. “There’s also been big growth in business success and professional success, so many of those people are now able to give back to their community.”
Kwoh said that in the first half of 2017, of the more than $220 million donated to colleges and universities by the people profiled in the study, $50 million went to UC campuses.
The study also found that the number of Chinese American foundations in the United States grew by over 400 percent from 2000-2014.
“It’s really something,” Kwoh said. “Until this study, I don’t think anyone saw growth in the number of foundations as well as the size of the gifts.”
According to José Rodríguez, spokesperson for the UC Berkeley Office of University Development and Alumni Relations, donations from China and Hong Kong represent almost 25 percent of donations made to campus from Asia from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2017.
Over the past eight years, contributions to campus from China have increased by a factor of 77, from $53,000 in 2009 to over $4 million in 2017. Just last April, the campus was able to launch the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for Silk Road Studies because of $5 million in donations made by the Chinese American Tang family.
Josefina Castillo Baltodano of the UC Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education said education is a core value for the Chinese community.
“They’ve always given money, but now they have more wherewithal,” Baltodano said. “They really care deeply about education, about their family, their community. … (It’s) not just a gift for themselves (but) a gift for their community and family.”
According to Rodríguez, data on monetary contributions to the campus by ethnicity, as opposed to by country, is very difficult for the campus to track. For its study, the GCPI focused only on large donations and foundations because trying to track all donations would have been an unwieldy project, Kwoh said.
Kwoh added that in the future, the GCPI hopes to obtain funding and resources to study other communities, including Korean Americans and South Asians.
“They made it through really hard work. They don’t want their children to just inherit cash or stock,” Kwoh said of Chinese and Chinese American philanthropists. “They believe in giving.”