An Incredible Milestone

The University of Texas at Austin has become the first university in the state to raise $1 billion for students through a philanthropic campaign. The milestone comes more than two years ahead of the University’s target date.

What Starts Here, which began in fall 2016, is only the second U.S. public university campaign to receive more than $1 billion in dedicated support for undergraduate and graduate students. The campaign’s overall goal of $6 billion is the third-highest of any public university. To date, alumni and friends of UT have contributed more than $4.8 billion in total support.

“Our aspiration of becoming the world’s highest-impact public research university depends on attracting the best students, supporting them and equipping them to go out and change the world,” said President Jay Hartzell. “That starts with making our world-class University affordable and accessible, and then surrounding our students with the people and programs that enable them to succeed. I could not be more grateful for, or energized by, the generosity of Longhorns taking care of Longhorns to reach this incredible philanthropic milestone, or to Chairman Eltife and the UT System Board of Regents for seeding so many of our student-support efforts.”

As of January 2024, nearly 291,000 donors have given in direct support of students. Their gifts, which range from $5 to nine-figure investments, have supported almost 39,000 students since 2016.

About 9,600 of those Longhorns have been served by UT for Me – Powered by Dell Scholars, a partnership between the University and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation that was made possible by the foundation’s 10-year, $100 million investment.

“With the right support system in place, we can ensure every student has the tools and resources they need to succeed in college. The UT for Me program equips Pell-eligible students to make the most of their college experience and become the Texas leaders of tomorrow,” said Janet Mountain, BBA ’89, executive director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and a member of UT’s Development Board.

photo collage with UT students and the Tower
Many hundreds more students have received scholarships as a result of the Texas Challenge, a gift-matching campaign established with support from The University of Texas System Board of Regents. To date, donors have made nearly 750 commitments to establish Texas Challenge scholarships, which, after the regents’ match, have added almost $90 million in permanent scholarship funding for Texas students with significant financial need.

In total, donors have created more than 1,250 new student scholarships and fellowships during the What Starts Here campaign to date, with more than two years remaining in this historic fundraising effort.

They have also stepped up through grassroots efforts to support students during times of crisis. During three months in 2020, alumni and friends gave more than $3 million to UT’s Student Emergency Fund, which provided financial assistance to nearly 10% of the student body during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the aftermath of 2021’s February winter storm, more than 1,600 UT donors gave as part of a five-day emergency fundraising effort.

Donors’ annual giving to support UT students has increased more than 137% in the What Starts Here campaign. The number of students benefitting from their support has risen nearly 80%. More than 300 scholarship and student support programs across the University have been established or strengthened since 2016.

“As a Longhorn and a volunteer leader of this campaign, nothing makes me prouder than watching hundreds of thousands of our alumni, friends, faculty and staff, families and partners investing in our outstanding students,” said Phil Canfield, BBA ’89, a member of the What Starts Here campaign executive committee and the philanthropist behind the University’s Canfield Business Honors Program. “I can’t wait to see what we do together as a community to go beyond a billion dollars in impact for UT students in the last two years of this campaign.”

“Our aspiration of becoming the world’s highest-impact public research university depends on attracting the best students, supporting them and equipping them to go out and change the world.”

President Jay Hartzell

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