Strong donor support makes FY22 third-highest giving year in history

When alumni and friends contributed nearly $230 million in one year -- achieving the third highest giving year in university history -- the impact was personal for Mariana Chavez.

No stranger to hard work, Mariana made food deliveries and donated plasma to try to make ends meet during her first year at Iowa State. She still feared she'd have to leave school due to lingering financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of the Sulentic Family Success Grant, a fund established in 2021, she was able to stay in school and now is a junior successfully working toward a degree in public relations.

Mariana is just one example of the thousands of students impacted by the generosity of 44,491 alumni and friends of the university who gave to Iowa State during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022 (FY22).

More than 7,000 students received donor-funded scholarships. One new fund available to students is the Drew Patrick DiDonato Memorial Scholarship, established in memory of Drew DiDonato, who was a sophomore at Iowa State in 2021 when he died following a skateboarding accident. Diagnosed with autism, Drew was passionate about helping others believe in, embrace and love their authentic self. His family created the scholarship to help support students with disabilities attending Iowa State.

In addition to improving access to Iowa State through scholarships, donor support helps enable an exceptional Iowa State experience, from student organizations and study abroad to undergraduate research and internships that help prepare students for the workforce. This past year alone, donors provided more than $90 million in total student support.

First 24-hour event

Nearly 20% of last year's donors gave to Iowa State for the first time. Those who gave also engaged with Iowa State in new ways, including the first-ever Forever True Day. In just 24 hours, Cyclones from around the globe gave gifts of $50, $100 and more to collectively raise nearly $650,000 to support students, faculty and programs.

"Following the highly successful Forever True, For Iowa State campaign that ended in July 2021, Iowa State alumni and friends continued their extraordinary support for the university and its future by generously giving to all areas of campus and beyond," said Larissa Holtmyer Jones, president and CEO of the Iowa State University Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit the university.

This included investing in the university's priorities, such as entrepreneurship and innovation. The new Thamodaran Family Innovation in Agriculture Fund provides scholarships to students enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who are working on innovative scientific, technological or business ideas related to challenges in agriculture today. In addition, the Larson Scholarship in Entrepreneurship and Management will support students in the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business pursuing degrees in entrepreneurship or management.

Support for faculty and staff

Since the university's founding, Iowa State faculty and staff have been renowned for their research, collaboration, service and dedication to teaching. Donors recognize the valuable contributions these professionals are making to the state, nation and world, as well as to individual lives. This is evidenced in donors' support of professorships, fellowships, department chairs and more. One example is the Hoefle Professorship in Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery, an endowed position that supports faculty who specialize in small animal orthopedic surgery. During FY22, 28 faculty positions were newly endowed or supported thanks to donor generosity. In total, 346 positions are supported by alumni and friends of the university.

In addition to outstanding faculty, donors gave to programs that enhance the student experience and broaden opportunities for hands-on learning. Cyclones provided more than $75 million in FY22 for programs. The Steven and Susan King Landscape Architecture Excellence Fund was created to further enrich Iowa State's top-ranked landscape architecture programs. The fund helps faculty increase place-based learning opportunities and expand the Traveling Savanna studio, a semester-long course in which sophomore landscape architecture students travel to places in the United States to study a range of landscapes, from urban city plazas to rural locations and national parks.

Donors also are helping keep Iowa State's beautiful campus vibrant and providing innovative learning spaces for students with projects like the LeBaron/MacKay Complex and the Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building. More than $53 million was contributed during the past fiscal year for Iowa State's learning environments.

For many students, Iowa State donors are an inspiration. When Mariana graduates, she hopes to start a national nonprofit organization aimed at supporting first-generation and low-income students in their college journeys. Knowing students often experience unforeseen hardships that might force them out of college, Mariana wants to help others the same way she's received help along the way to achieve her dream of an Iowa State education.