woman on Kauai
Kauaʻi CC student Sierra-Lynne Stone received aid from the Urgent Student Relief Fund.

Recognizing the dire financial situation many students were facing with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation in partnership with UH launched a fundraising campaign on March 23, 2020 to support students on all 10 UH campuses. By mid-April, generous donors had given a total of $1 million to directly support students at a time when they needed help the most.

Student with stress, researcher with microscope

It is just one example of the extraordinary generosity and strategic investments by donors to the UH Foundation. Thanks to 17,414 donors, the UH Foundation raised $84.7 million in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020), directly benefiting students, faculty, research and programs on all 10 UH campuses.

“This is an exceptional fundraising result considering the volatile and challenging year we have all had,” said Rich Wacker, UH Foundation board chair. “We are so grateful that our community members, foundations and corporations are coming together and funding solutions to help us navigate these times and re-imagine our future.”

We thank our thousands of alumni and friends who are helping us help Hawaiʻi in facing the present and setting a path forward so we can come back stronger than ever.
—David Lassner

Givers to the UH Foundation are extremely diverse as are the life-changing results of their investments in UH. Individual donors gave more than $22 million, followed by foundations with almost $20 million. Corporations gave more than $16 million and UH alumni gave more than $15 million. UH’s own faculty and staff also accounted for more than $7 million in donations.

“The University of Hawaiʻi is absolutely critical to the success of our state and our people,” said UH President David Lassner. “We are so grateful to our many donors who are helping us provide the high quality affordable higher education opportunities needed in our communities to help both recent graduates and the recently unemployed find their paths to success.”

“Our faculty are also the experts and critical thinkers who guide and lead the response to many of the challenges and opportunities Hawaiʻi faces—from climate change and sea level rise to community health, disaster response and economic recovery. We thank our thousands of alumni and friends who are helping us help Hawaiʻi in facing the present and setting a path forward so we can come back stronger than ever.”

Diverse donors

These are just a few examples of the impact of donations last year:

  • Before her death from cancer in July 2018, Norma Nichols, a public school teacher with a love for the arts, established endowments to fortify the arts and cancer research.
  • dana naone hall
    Dana Naone Hall at ʻIolani Palace (Photo credit: Masako Cordray)
  • Dana Naone Hall, the poet, Hawaiian rights advocate and environmental activist, was honored by the Laurence H. Dorcy Hawaiian Foundation through the establishment of the Dana Naone Hall Endowed Chair in Hawaiian Studies, Literature and the Environment at UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.
  • Roberta Weil and the LaFrance Foundation established the first two endowments to support students participating in the Waiʻaleʻale project at Kauaʻi Community College.
  • Donors partnered with UH to address the disruptions in college planning experienced by Hawaiʻi’s high school seniors. With funding from UH partners at The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaii Resilience Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Strada Education Network and the Stupski Foundation, the UH Community Colleges were able to offer free, online Next Step: Career Exploration classes to Hawaiʻi’s class of 2020 public high school graduates.

Donors decide

Donors to the UH Foundation choose where they want their gifts to go. The top 3 donor designated areas were:

  • Student aid: $24,451,721
  • Research: $20,906,002
  • Chairs and Professorships: $9,759,896

“We are so grateful for each of the 21,070 gifts,” UH Vice President of Advancement and UH Foundation CEO Tim Dolan said. “Donors have made a phenomenal difference in the lives of our students this year, funding COVID-19 related urgent needs, programs supporting high school students’ transition to college, and students from all backgrounds graduating with the degrees and certificates essential for our economic recovery.”

For more information go to the UH Foundation website.