Regents Turn to Social Media for Scholarships, Student Aid Fundraising

Senior Vice President for External Relations Dan Dooley Presents "Promise Platform" to Committee on Education

In an effort to raise more money for scholarships and student aid, the University of California Board of Regents is looking to utilize social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Their plan, which has engaged Student Regent Jonathan Stein, Student Regent Designate Cinthia Flores, and the UC Student Association, who penned a letter of endorsement for the program, is designed to engage younger students and alumni is to utilize the broad social media audience of UC students, businesses, corporations, and celebrities alike to raise money through a “Promise Platform.” This platform will be similar to a pledge drive; a student or person can pledge to do something—dye their hair, bike a certain distance, wear a wig to a formal meeting—if and only if they raise a specific amount of money to do so. The money raised will then be donated to the UC and will go straight to scholarships and financial aid for students.

Senior Vice President of External Relations for the UC Office of the President Dan Dooley presented to the Regents’ committee on education earlier today about the plan, development of which has been led by Regent Chairman Sherry Lansing.

The program is still in the works but those instrumental in it anticipate it will be launched around Oct. 1. The platform will be a 30-day limited program focused on getting as much buzz and engagement as possible from both users of social media and businesses.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation—which put on the “Stand Up To Cancer” campaign that raised over $250 million for cancer research—will also be working with UC on this new fundraising venture to recruit celebrities to make promises as well as solicit corporate sponsors that can help match individual contributions made by social media connections.

“There’s a lot of interest in the business community in participating in this program, and I’m hopeful that when we come back to you in September we will have enough money committed by our business partners to meet our goal,” said Dooley.

Money raised from this platform will go directly toward scholarships and student aid, Lansing said, particularly Project You Can. Project You Can is a systemwide fundraising effort focused on raising $1 billion for student aid at all 10 UC campuses by 2014. The project has raised $671 million as of February of this year.

“Students will have a lot of say in how successful this is” Dooley said.

“It has involved significant collaboration from each of UC’s campuses, key external partners including the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and has the broad support of UC student leadership” said information attached to the agenda item.

“What this initiative is designed for is to engage the students,” said Lansing. “We’ve seen the power of the students for Prop. 30, we’ve seen the power of the students for advocacy—we’ve seen the power of the students when they care about something.”