Billions and Billions: Campaign ASU 2020 shows the impact of private support


What are the chances a public university could quietly raise a ton of private funds to sustain and grow its programs? If anyone doubts it can be done, Arizona State University has a billion dollars to bet you. And it’s going to throw that wad in dozens of directions.

Since launching in stealth mode six years ago, the university’s Campaign ASU 2020 covertly compiled $1 billion in private donations, putting it closer to its goal of raising at least $1.5 billion total over the next three years. The funds from the campaign, which is being steered by the ASU Foundation for a New American University, will bankroll a bevy of programs, initiatives and scholarships (see sidebar). Campaign ASU 2020 is the university’s first major campaign during President Michael Crow’s tenure, and the most comprehensive campaign in 14 years.

“We envisioned Campaign ASU 2020 as a comprehensive, university-wide effort to celebrate who we are, from where we’ve come and all the people who are shaping our future and helping this great university on its upward trajectory,” says Rick Shangraw, CEO of the ASU Foundation and ASU Enterprise Partners.

Previous campaigns for Arizona State University included Campaign for ASU, which lasted from 1985 to 1988 and raised $114 million, and ASU Campaign for Leadership, which raised $560 million between 1997 and 2002. Campaign ASU 2020 has already handily eclipsed them, and provided a spotlight for the importance of private donations to public education.

“One cannot underestimate the value of private support at ASU and at public universities,” Shangraw says. “For some students, neither attending nor graduating from college would have been possible without private support. To see those students go on to succeed in their careers and family lives, or to see them look a donor in the eye and express their gratitude, is a great triumph of the value of supporting education in our community and all the good that can come from it.”

Funds from the campaign will be used for a plethora of programs and purposes, including expansion of  ASU Libraries’ Greater Arizona Collection (an assortment of historical items and writings); upgrading Cronkite News to a year-round operation (the organization goes dark during university breaks); funding mentorship programs at the W.P. Carey School of Business; supporting the ASU initiative to bring social work and services to the residents of the Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix; and endowing faculty positions at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

More than 260,000 people have contributed to the campaign so far, and around 55,600 students have received scholarships since the campaign started. ASU junior Lindsay Zapata is one of them.  She’s majoring in nonprofit leadership and management. “Every day I meet someone who is so passionately dedicated to a cause that I am able to connect with to further my learning outside the classroom,” Zapata says. “After graduation, I hope to use my talent to support grassroots campaigns that deserve to get lifted off the ground around the globe.”

Campaign ASU 2020 has not only helped Zapata pay for her classes and materials; it has also empowered her within her community and inspired her to share her story. “Having a platform that is dedicated to championing student success encourages me to support my community and involve my peers in doing the same. Many students don’t realize the untapped talent and potential they have to make a difference in our community, but Campaign ASU 2020 provides them a new perspective on giving,” Zapata says.

Shangraw adds, “Scholarships are just one of the many, many ways philanthropy benefits ASU. Nearly every research project, faculty member, updated facility, student success program or service provided by the university to its community has a tie to private support.”

Donors to Campaign ASU 2020 can choose which area or programs they’d like to support (those interested in donating to the campaign can visit  “Innovation doesn’t rest,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a press release. “ASU’s continuing evolution now depends on you. We ask you to invest your financial resources in ASU, yes, but also your ideas and your time.”


Show You the Money

Campaign ASU 2020 aims to raise $1.5 billion.

$441 million would go toward research and labs, entrepreneurship and art galleries.

ASU student participation in local projects, public television and performing arts would benefit to the tune of $165 million.

$233 million would be funneled into faculty fellowships, professor endowments and artist-in-residence programs.

Sun Devil athletics would score $258 million to increase scholarships, and to fund more sports and the construction of an Olympic Village on Rural Road.

$184 million would help more students study abroad.

Academic scholarships would be boosted by $220 million.



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