York to the Power of 50: Campaign nearing its $200-million goal

In the midst of an economic slowdown, York’s donors continue to stand by the University and its academic and research priorities.

For the fiscal year ending April 30, York’s generous supporters have committed more than $26 million, surpassing its fundraising goal and pushing the overall York to the Power of 50 campaign past the $185-million mark toward its $200-million goal.

"This generosity in tough economic conditions is really inspiring," said York’s President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. "It’s a testament to the depth of commitment to York University and widespread belief in the very bright future of this institution. The success of York to the Power of 50 has really been a shared success of the entire York community and friends of the University."

Above: The William and Nona Heaslip Scholarships provide $15,000 awards to six students each year. Recently, Heaslip Scholars met with philanthropist Nona Macdonald Heaslip at a luncheon at Glendon Manor to discuss their work. Pictured from left: Sierra Frank, Nona Macdonald Heaslip, Monika Mielczarek, Agyakar Singh and York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

York to the Power of 50 was launched to support the University’s academic and research priorities, collectively known as Transform50 (student scholarships, awards and bursaries); Innovate50 (pioneering programs and research); Create50 (infrastructure); and Empower50 (Chairs and professorships).

Paul Marcus, president & CEO of York University Foundation, said two very important trends have driven the campaign’s overall success thus far: “Participation remains high with 9,000 donors contributing in the past year. And we’re seeing tremendous support in terms of very large donations with 42 pledges of $1 million or more since the start of the campaign.”

Left: In September 2008, York celebrated the opening of the York University – TD Community Engagement Centre at Yorkgate Mall. The centre was made possible by a $1-million gift from TD Bank Financial Group. From left: York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri; Sue Levesque, director of the centre; and Bill Hatanaka, group head, wealth management and chairman and CEO, TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., TD Bank Financial Group.

Many different tales of generosity make up the full story behind the numbers of York to the Power of 50. York’s faculty, staff and retirees have stepped up to the plate, pushing the Family Campaign well past its goal of 2,009 donors by the year 2009. Cathy Yanosik, vice-president operations, York University Foundation, said concern for students gave rise to a recent wave of support for the Family Campaign. “Members of the York Community are concerned about students because of the combined effects of the economy and the extended school year. We want to make sure students who may be struggling financially are able to continue their studies,” she says.

Right: The University was the beneficiary of this year’s Red Rose Ball, honouring longtime York supporters Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan, who is also a member of the York University Foundation board of directors. The ball is an annual event of The St. George’s Society of Toronto.

Many of those giving to the Family Campaign were responding to a special appeal by York to raise $5 million for the 50th Anniversary Awards & Bursaries program. It was launched earlier this year as a short-term measure to help students returning to University in upcoming semesters.

While the 50th Anniversary Awards & Bursaries Program is an immediate measure, allowing students to get help right away, York to the Power of 50 is already raising substantial funding for students. In fact, of the $185 million raised so far, nearly one-quarter is going to Transform50, the University’s priority for student scholarships, awards and bursaries.

In addition to Transform50, other University priorities being supported through York to the Power of 50 are Create50 (infrastructure), Innovate50 (pioneering programs and research) and Empower50 (Chairs and professorships).

Above: The chart shows the proportion of gifts going to each area of York to the Power of 50

Some of the other important gifts celebrated over the course of the past year include $2.5 million from a friend of the University to create 500 entrance awards of $5,000 each over the next two years; $3 million from Jay and Barbara Hennick to create The Hennick Centre for Business & Law, a unique integration of business and legal education; and the naming of the Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies.

Fundraising has also played an active role in helping York University to celebrate its 50th birthday and to deliver landmark events such as the 50 + 50 Symposium that saw innovative thinkers such as Margaret Atwood and technology guru Nicholas Negroponte come to York. The birthday has also represented an opportunity to showcase York’s excellence through events such as York in Concert.

Left: Enjoying York in Concert. From left, York University Foundation Board Chair Timothy Price, Janet Palmer and Bud Purves, president of the York University Development Corporation

In addition, fundraising events have played an important part in the success of York to the Power of 50, raising York University’s profile while providing our supporters with opportunities to have fun while supporting the University. Key events include the Fisher Fund Wine Tasting & Auction in support of activities at the Las Nubes rainforest in Costa Rica, The St. George’s Society of Toronto’s Red Rose Ball, and the Kenaidan-York University Chair’s Cup Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $3 million for graduate student scholarships since 2001.