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UC crowd-funding effort brings in $1.3 million -- and some fun

Media IndustryHuman InterestUC Santa BarbaraUC IrvineUC BerkeleySkypeTeri Hatcher

An unusual effort by the UC system to raise scholarship money through online crowd-funding tactics -- including promises by faculty and students to lead hikes, wash cars and wear kooky costumes -- has garnered $1.3 million, officials said Wednesday.

The formal part of the six-week Promise for Education campaign ended Oct. 31, and about 4,000 people donated to it via social media.

“We are really pleased. In addition to the amount of money raised, just seeing the visibility for scholarships was important,” said Jason Simon, UC’s executive director of marketing communications.

When it was announced publicly in September, about $900,000 already had been given or pledged in mainly traditional ways: large donations from businesses and UC regents, along with $400,000 from the estate of a New York state history teacher, Abraham Trop, whose three children attended UC.

The next $400,000 came from gifts averaging $75 each, responding to nearly 1,030 promises to do often light-hearted activities if a donation goal was met, Simon said.

Among the successful promises, UC Merced student Aikiro Tiongson wore a phony horse head on campus for a week after raising $200. Actress Teri Hatcher, whose father attended UC Berkeley, gathered more than $11,500 by promising to host private cooking lessons on Skype for the five biggest contributors. UC Santa Barbara fraternity Sigma Nu attracted $1,230 by promising to wash cars for sororities that donated at least $200.

UC Irvine chancellor Michael Drake was tops in crowd-funding, garnering $21,443, with a pledge to lead donors on a bicycle ride in the Irvine area.

While the active part of the campaign is over, it will remain open for donations to promises worth another $400,000 or so that were not fully funded, Simon said. And Promise for Education may be a model for future campaigns around UC, he added.

The money will supplement the nearly $700 million a year in financial aid UC undergraduates receive from the university and private sources, not including federal and other state aid.

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larry.gordon@latimes.com

Twitter: @larrygordonlat

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