NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University collected $250.9 million in donations during the 2018-19 fiscal year, passing its previous record by about $25 million.

The money collected from the 48,500 or so donors will be used to support an array of efforts to improve people’s lives, including the creation of the state’s first inpatient mental health treatment facility for adolescents and young adults and scholarships for students from underserved communities.

The donors contributed to thousands of causes across every area of the university, according to a statement released recently by the school.

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Some of the donations are among the largest in Rutgers’ history.

Alumna Marlene Brandt committed $30 million to launch the Rutgers Initiative for Youth Behavioral Health and Well-Being that will bring a new treatment center and residence to the state to address the need for comprehensive mental health services and make it possible for families to remain close during a challenging time.

Contributions from alumni and friends surpassed last year’s record of $223.4 million by more than 12%.

Philanthropic commitments at Rutgers have grown more than 40 percent over the last five years, with support for the university’s academic health division driving some of the largest increases.

It's one of the biggest success stories during Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi's tenure. When Barchi addressed the Board of Governors at a meeting in June, he referenced the increase in donations as one of the highlights of his seven years in the position.

“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the university community, Rutgers is well positioned to meet future challenges and opportunities and to have a positive impact on the lives of people in New Jersey and around the globe,” Barchi said. “Donor gifts help Rutgers compete on an international stage – for talented students, outstanding faculty and researchers, and additional funding.”  

This fiscal year marked many firsts for fundraising: Rutgers University-Newark received the largest-ever donation made solely for its use – a $10 million commitment by Prudential Financial to the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) to create the Prudential Scholars Program for Newark residents. The gift will provide scholarships to cover tuition and fees, as well as room and board to city residents. Prudential Scholars will have access to resources to help them build their entrepreneurial skills and the social networks to empower them to become agents of positive change in the city.

Richard N. Weeks, a 1950 Rutgers graduate who grew his family’s small marine construction company into an industry leader, also committed $10 million to support undergraduate scholarships at the Rutgers School of Engineering. His donation was the largest gift ever to the school and, at the time, the largest scholarship gift in the university’s history. The Richard N. Weeks Endowed Scholarship will help many more talented students obtain an outstanding engineering education at Rutgers.

Other highlights this year include additional significant philanthropy to provide access to a Rutgers education:

  • The university’s Board of Trustees created a new endowment to give the Rutgers Assistance Grants a boost and a new name. Beginning in academic year 2020-21, the need-based grants will be known as Scarlet Promise Grants and will be the focus of efforts to raise $3 million to help support the program in perpetuity. Three trustees –Mary DiMartino DC’85, former chair of the board; James Dougherty RC’74, GSNB’75, vice chair of the board; and philanthropy task force chair Ken Johnson ENG’66 – kicked off the challenge this spring by making gifts of $100,000 each. About 25 percent of undergraduates receive Rutgers Assistance Grants, which were created in the 1990s to bridge a gap between the amount provided by the New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant and the cost of tuition.
  • More than 12,000 donors contributed $37.6 million for financial aid and $28.2 million for fellowships to help the more than half of Rutgers students who receive assistance that helps make a Rutgers education possible.
  • More than 8,000 donors came together for Rutgers Giving Day and Giving Tuesday to support a variety of causes across the university, including assistance to more than 1,500 students through Rutgers food pantries.

Medical education and health research drew $109,690,199 in philanthropy this year, growth of more than 67 percent. That includes Brandt’s $30 million commitment for the Rutgers Initiative for the Youth Behavioral Health and Well-Being to address a pressing need for comprehensive mental health services for New Jersey’s young people.

The initiative will have two primary components: a new Institute for Social Emotional Wellness at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and a new Treatment Center and Residence, led by University Behavioral Health Care, which will be built on Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s George H. Cook campus.

Currently, no facility in New Jersey offers inpatient mental health treatment specifically for adolescents and young adults. New Jersey families needing such care must resort to out-of-state, sometimes distant, programs, and they often find inadequate resources for continued outpatient care after their children return home. The inpatient and outpatient centers will treat young people primarily from New Jersey and the Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas.

A challenge launched by Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom was also a factor in the growth of support for medical education and health research. Gifts to the challenge are double-matched for new Rutgers donors and alumni faculty. Funds from returning donors, faculty, staff and students receive one-to-one matches.

Rutgers-Newark also saw large gains this year, attracting $29.1 million, the largest sum in its history and an increase of more than 88 percent over the prior year’s total, thanks to the contribution from Prudential and other donors.

The Class of 2019 made some history, too. Members of the graduating class continued the tradition of giving back generously through the Senior Class Campaign, becoming the most philanthropic senior class in Rutgers history.

Rutgers University Athletics reached its own significant milestone this year: completing the $100 million Big Ten Build campaign, aided by a $4 million gift by alumnus Greg Brown, former chair of the Board of Governors, and his wife Anna. The donation funded construction of the Brown Family Locker Room which opened this week to the delight of the football players and the donors.