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Harvard University Earned $6 Billion in Donations and Pledges

Harvard University has officially raised more than $6 billion in gifts, pledges, and donations through its Capital Campaign, according to members of the college’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The university is two years into its public fundraising phase, and it now appears to be forging ahead robustly. The campaign’s goal is to raise $6.5 billion overall by 2018.

Harvard, whose students have included great minds like Bill Gates and political figures like Barack Obama, has been receiving substantial gifts from alumni and people who want to help. Hedge fund manager and 1989 graduate Kenneth C. Griffin donated $125 million to assist with financial aid at the college in February of 2014—at the time, the largest donation Harvard had ever received. $10 million of that donation will endow a new professorship at the Harvard Business School, which has produced influential businesspeople like Thomas Weisel and Anne Moore, the first female CEO of Time, Inc.

This summer, John A. Paulson, also a hedge fund manager and 1980 graduate, pledged a record-breaking $400 million to Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Paulson’s gift is unrestricted and it establishes a permanent endowment that will be named after him. On his decision to donate to the SEAS, Paulson said that it was “clear that a major priority for Harvard was to establish the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Allston as the next center for technological innovation.”

Though it looks like Harvard will reach its fundraising goal, University President Drew G. Faust announced that there are no current plans to raise the goal of the campaign. In total, the campaign has received 179,721 gifts, the majority of which came from a group of 40 donors who each donated at least $10 million.

Because of the budget cut the university faces—being Harvard does not exempt it from the same kinds of cuts all universities around the country face—it will need to rely on what the Capital Campaign provides. Specific areas targeted for funding include House Renewal and the Student Experience, Leading in Learning, Faculty and the Scholarly Enterprise, and the Dean’s Leadership Fund, in addition to those areas mentioned above.

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A Shot at the Ivy Leagues

Ivy League
IMG: via Shutterstock

New York City is a hotbed for creative, talented minorities who may never make it out of Brooklyn.  This is a shame because everyone else could benefit from their immense talent.  The problem is that there are not enough resources to supplement ordinary schooling.

A Harvard and Stanford study that came out this year emphasized the inadequacy of how low-income students are represented at selective colleges and universities.  What it showed was that “only 34 percent of the highest-achieving high-school seniors whose families fell in the bottom quarter of income distribution – versus 78 percent in the top quarter – attended one of the country’s most selective colleges, based on a list of nearly 250 schools compiled by Barron’s.”

However, the good news is that there are scouts in New York City seeking out the best and brightest.  In 1978, Gary Simons, a teacher from the Bronx, founded Prep for Prep.  His goal was to find talented students of color and prepare them to go to private schools.  So far, hundreds of his students have gone on to law, medicine, and business schools and work at some of the most prestigious firms.

Feeling that Prep for Prep was not enough, Simons and others later founded Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, or LEDA.  Their aim was to seek out and advance the best students from public high schools from around the country regardless of race.  Yet, almost all the students come from families who earn less than $55,000 per year.

Another popular program is Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, or S.E.O., whose mission is to provide “supe­rior edu­ca­tional and career pro­grams to young peo­ple from under-­served com­mu­ni­ties to max­i­mize their oppor­tu­ni­ties for col­lege and career success.”

When you look at the success rate of students who have attended programs LEDA and S.E.O., you can see why wealthy donors would want to contribute funding.  Recently Henry Kravis pledged $4 million in matching funds to S.E.O., which must have surely been a happy surprise.

The training they provide goes side-by-side with regular schooling to give exceptional students a shot at success.  S.E.O. was started by Manhattan lawyers and advertising executives over 50 years ago, yet it is still as successful as ever.