Crowdfund UC Davis: A Promising Month Ahead

Students and professor display wildfire-resistant bricks
Michele Barbato, professor of structural engineering, second from left, leads the Crowdfund project for affordable and sustainable wildfire-resistant housing. He is pictured here with students, from left: Nitin Kumar, Julie Nguyen and Thomas Tonthat, holding bricks they have made and tried to burn. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)

After garnering more than $100,000 in donations in each of two monthlong campaigns last year, Crowdfund UC Davis is back with a new lineup of projects put forth by student, faculty and staff teams, asking for support.

Tremendous interest from a wide variety of disciplines and causes across campus has pushed the project count for the February 2022 campaign to 30 — the largest cohort since the biannual fundraiser began in 2020.


While the projects vary in their purpose and scope, all seek to strengthen university programs and their positive impact on campus and beyond.

One example is the Senior Class Challenge, spearheaded by the UC Davis Student Foundation, Aggies Helping Aggies. In response to growing housing insecurity among students, the foundation is partnering with Aggie House — a student-led facility providing transitional housing and related services — to encourage graduating seniors to support their peers in need. Dollars raised through Crowdfund UC Davis will help the program tremendously, as Aggie House is completely reliant on grants and community donations to operate.

“Thanks to philanthropy, Aggie House has been able to ensure that the basic needs of dozens of UC Davis students are met,” said Ashley Lo, one of Aggie House’s co-founders. “Support for the Senior Class Challenge will help us continue this important work for years to come.”

Creating a better future

Many of February’s crowdfund projects share this sentiment. While teams are raising dollars to address current, pressing issues, achieving their fundraising goals will also lead to positive impacts that create a better future for us all.

For example, one project is raising funds for LGBTQIA+ Leadership Scholarships for students, while another aims to develop affordable and sustainable wildfire-resistant housing. Other projects support campus programs, emergency funds, research and clubs that serve to enrich the lives of student and local communities.

“Crowdfund UC Davis’ growth in both popularity and giving is a testament to its transformative power for campus groups,” said Michelle Poesy, senior director of the Annual and Special Gifts Program, which manages Crowdfund UC Davis. “Dollars raised through Crowdfund UC Davis have a real, direct impact on the groups that participate, and I think our campus community and donors are noticing that.”

Goals surpassed

Crowdfund UC Davis takes place in February and October each year, running the entire month. The most recent campaign, in October 2021, was a record-breaking success. Of the 20 groups that participated, eight met or surpassed their goals, double the number compared to the previous cohort.

The October drive for the Department of Political Science Diversity Award surpassed its fundraising goal by more than 500 percent. The team’s initial goal of $5,000 was intended to provide small summer scholarships to political science doctoral students from historically underrepresented communities. When the group raised an additional (and unexpected) $20,000, the department began efforts to establish an endowment to support the award in perpetuity. What began as a modest crowdfund project could now have a tremendous, enduring impact.

The Annual and Special Gifts Program, in cooperation with Advancement Services, reviews applications and provides the Crowdfund UC Davis platform, guidance and some publicity — but it’s up to project teams to fuel the marketing and networking that lead to success.

The application period for the October 2022 Crowndfund UC Davis will open March 29.

Media Resources

Chelsea Clouser is a communications and external relations specialist for the Annual and Special Gifts Program in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-2661.

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