A $5 million gift from the Ginsburg Family Foundation will help UCF pioneer a new kind of inclusive excellence where “every student can earn success, guided by a world-class faculty in a culture rooted in innovation, entrepreneurship and compassion.”

The Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement will serve UCF students, faculty and staff, and members of the greater Orlando community. The center will engage and strengthen the community through education aimed at building cross-cultural and global competencies, as well as opportunities to learn about and effectively serve various populations, such as those with differing abilities and disabilities; veterans; those who are the first in their families to attend college; and people of varied socio-economic statuses, cultures and beliefs.

“This generous gift will further strengthen our communities by creating pathways for low-income students to receive a high-quality post-secondary education, many of whom will be the first in their families to receive a college education,” UCF President Alexander Cartwright says. “Our holistic approach will not only ensure that students have access to a college education, but the support and resources needed to thrive and succeed after graduation.”

Additional initiatives and areas of emphasis include a renewed focus on civil discourse and civic engagement; creating inclusive teaching, learning and work environments; and developing strong partnerships with community and industry partners.

“Universities have always been places where people of differing viewpoints and backgrounds come together to learn, innovate and engage with respect and civility,” Cartwright says. “Thanks to the generosity of the Ginsburg Family Foundation, this new center will enhance our efforts to lead with care and compassion, promote a culture that leverages our collective strengths, and allow the campus community to discover solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

The center will be led by Andrea Guzmán, UCF’s first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, whose leadership and vision were instrumental in its creation. The center will include current and new UCF staff and is expected to open July 1. It will not be a physical space but rather a hub of expertise based on the main campus with a presence at UCF Downtown and other UCF campuses.

UCF will amplify the Ginsburg Family Foundation’s gift with a university investment of $2.5 million from the UCF Challenge. The Challenge provides matching funds for key UCF initiatives from the $40 million gift made in 2021 by philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

The Ginsburg Family Foundation awarded a total of $40 million to Nemours Children’s Health, the Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity, and UCF.

Nemours received $25 million to advance health equity for children in medically underserved communities. A $10 million grant will support the construction of the new Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity in downtown Orlando.

“Our family loves our city and we are proud to support these organizations which not only celebrate our diversity, but also improve the quality of life for our community,” says Alan H. Ginsburg, prominent Central Florida philanthropist, community leader and Chairman of Ginsburg Family Foundation. “Our hope is these grants inspire our growing community to continue to prioritize equity and inclusion, but also inspire others to give in any way they can to support these important initiatives.”

The Ginsburg Family Foundation’s gift follows UCF being named among the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award winners for the seventh consecutive year by Insight Into Diversity magazine. The awards recognize universities with an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly in areas such as student recruitment, retention and completion, programming, initiatives and outreach, and hiring practices.

Four months ago, UCF earned the Seal of Exelencia from Exelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Hispanic/Latina/o/x success in higher education.  In 2019, UCF was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education — recognition that Hispanic/Latina/o/x students make up more than a quarter of the university’s undergraduate enrollment. That designation made UCF eligible for federal funding to strengthen student success initiatives.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges Rankings put UCF in the Top Performers on Social Mobility category, ranking the university 51st in the nation. In the last two years, UCF’s social mobility ranking has risen 19 spots, up from 62nd in 2021 and 70th in 2020.The category, which measures the number of Pell Grant-eligible students who enroll and graduate, is important to students’ success in college and beyond. Graduation rates correlate with getting a stable job and better income — two important factors to social mobility.

For more than a decade, UCF has worked to ensure students of all backgrounds, including those who are first-generation or from underserved communities, have access to a quality college degree — and the resources and tools needed to succeed. This creates a powerful ripple effect by transforming the future for generations to come.

About one in five UCF students is the first in their family to attend college and 49% of UCF students are students of color. UCF enrolls more than 1,500 military and veteran students, and Hillel ranks UCF No. 3 in the nation for the largest Jewish student population. UCF was listed recently as the top college for LGBTQ+ students in Florida and as one of the top 25 in the nation by BestColleges.com in partnership with the Campus Pride Index.