UC Berkeley raises more than $1B in ‘Light the Way’ campaign

UC Berkeley's campus from a sky view.
Jessica Gleason/File
Launched Feb. 29, UC Berkeley's 'Light the Way' fundraising campaign has a goal of raising $6 billion by the end of 2023 and aims to create a more inviting campus community.

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UC Berkeley raised a record-breaking $1.039 billion this fiscal year, with donations from more than 61,000 donors.

This year’s fundraising efforts follow on the heels of the last two years, which also set fundraising records, according to Julie Hooper, vice chancellor for university development and alumni relations. The funds are made up of gifts, pledges and private grants. Donations were encouraged as part of the “Light the Way” campaign, UC Berkeley’s largest ever fundraising goal.

“During these uncertain times, I draw inspiration and energy from the response of our campus community, our agile research enterprise, our resolute drive to serve the public good, and the generosity of our donors, whose support affirms that Berkeley matters now more than ever,” said Chancellor Carol Christ in a July 20 message.

UC Berkeley’s “Light the Way” campaign was launched Feb. 29 and will continue to the end of 2023, with a goal of raising $6 billion. UC Berkeley is currently 62% of the way toward reaching that goal.

The campaign’s priorities include expanding faculty and graduate student fellowships, improving the undergraduate experience, supporting multidisciplinary research initiatives and building better facilities.

“The fundraising success of the past year will have a great impact,” Hooper said in an email. “Funds raised will provide support for students and faculty and programs that ensure academic excellence, access, and equity of experiences.”

There were a total of 61,553 donors, with the largest donations going toward the creation of a data science building, Rausser College of Natural Resources and the Weill Neurohub, a partnership between UC Berkeley, UCSF and the University of Washington.

There has also been more than $21 million donated from about 3,800 donors to support efforts related to COVID-19. UC Berkeley has focused on providing students with funds for emergency needs as well as COVID-19 testing and research in the past few months, according to Hooper.

According to Hooper, as societal calls for racial justice increase, campus is “redoubling” efforts to address diversity and create a more inviting campus community through fundraising. She added that Christ is also pledging to address racism on campus.

Part of a $10 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund will go toward supporting 44 additional African American Initiative scholars in the fall, added Hooper.

Hooper said fundraising supports essential elements of campus, such as students and faculty, through scholarships, fellowships and programs funds, but philanthropy alone cannot sustain the operating budget.

Moving forward, campus plans to continue its commitment to fundraising while also adapting to changing needs.

“We know the road ahead offers tremendous challenges and opportunities for the university,” Hooper said in the email. “Yet we are confident in making the case that Berkeley is uniquely suited to address some of the world’s most pressing problems and that we will get through these difficult times.”

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.