Today, we express overwhelming appreciation and gratitude to all of Knight Nation who bounced, stomped, splashed and cheered to celebrate UCF.
For UCF Day of Giving 2022, Knights raised over $3.7 million — the most in university history. More than 4,400 donors joined the community driven effort with Knights across the globe supporting the university and its many areas that aim to solve the world’s most significant challenges. UCF Day of Giving contributions highlight black-and-gold pride — and they help support our local community, expand student scholarships, power championship athletics, enhance the university’s global reputation, and fuel innovative research and inspiring creative works.
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“Our university is on a remarkable trajectory, thanks to the dedication of so many who contribute to our growing excellence in research, scholarship and community impact. With your help, we will continue to reach for the stars and accomplish incredible feats,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “All of us at UCF are grateful for the wonderful people throughout our Knights community who share in our commitment to making UCF and Central Florida exceptional and continue to brighten our future. Every day, and especially today, I feel fortunate to be a Knight.”
UCF’s record-setting Day of Giving was celebrated near and far, with gifts pouring in from Australia, New Zealand and Italy. At a local level, the festivities continued in-person as Knights gathered to celebrate the day at several events across UCF’s campuses. On main campus in the Student Union, Knights enjoyed trivia giveaways, free food, music, and photo ops, while Knightro and the spirit team hyped up the crowd. The high-energy experience helped highlight what UCF Day of Giving is all about — Knights coming together for something much bigger than themselves.
“It’s amazing to experience this (day on campus) before graduation,” says Joylene Calderon, a senior health sciences student who has received scholarships from UCF. “As a first-generation student, I don’t have financial support I can rely on to pay my tuition, so receiving scholarships is great. Thank you, donors, for your continuous support and for being so selfless by giving to (causes that empower) students like me.”
For the first time ever, UCF Day of Giving participants joined in some friendly competition as over 30 virtual challenges were activated throughout the day, including the First Gift of the Day Challenge, which came in right at midnight. Leaderboard displays on the UCF Day of Giving website were viewed thousands of times as colleges and units participated in their own challenges. Competing to win bonus funds, those that lead the way in number of gifts or number of dollars secured extra money to support engaging learning experiences, specialized facilities and equipment, and more. The top colleges and units across both categories were Athletics, Student Success and Well Being, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the College of Business.
“We asked for a ‘little help from our friends’ this year, and our friends delivered,” says Jeff Moore, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “We are thankful for the support, which will provide more opportunities for groups like the Marching Knights, boost scholarships so students can focus on their studies, and allow us to ‘Charge On’ with high priority projects like facility improvements and research initiatives.”
Amplifying the success of the university’s sports programs and student-athletes, more than $1.3 million raised for Athletics will help the organization transition into the Big 12 by 2024. UCF Day of Giving gifts will accelerate UCF Athletics’ Mission XII — an initiative aiming to provide championship-caliber services to support student-athletes’ careers and to position the university to win conferences and national championships.
“Our Mission XII initiative provides a roadmap for all of us as we anticipate the opportunities ahead of us as a Big 12 Conference member,” says Terry Mohajir, UCF’s vice president and director of Athletics. “On a day dedicated to creating support for (areas across UCF, like) UCF Athletics, these gifts also are helping to create life-changing opportunities for our students-athletes. Our transition to the Big 12 will be based on combining people and resources to create championships and careers after college, and the gifts (given) to UCF Athletics through UCF Day of Giving play a huge role in jumpstarting the revenue end of that process.”
Throughout the day 140 funds received gifts, with donors able to support the area that means the most to them. One of those funds is the Veteran’s Academic Resource Center (VARC), which received donations that will help fund programing, supplies and community building events that support student veterans. Last month, UCF earned a Silver Award on the 2022-23 Military Friendly Schools list — recognizing the university’s ability to help veterans succeed in the classroom and the real world. Gifts made to the VARC on UCF Day of Giving will help UCF uphold this designation and make strides to better serve those who have served our country.
“I had a challenging time feeling a sense of community until I went to the Veteran’s Academic Resource Center where I talked with a couple of veterans and even got a job,” wrote computer engineering major Yamil Casarreal. “Helping other veterans use their benefits is a great feeling and this has been the first time I felt comfortable talking to anybody about my time as a Marine.”
No matter the amount, areas supported or number of gifts, each contribution truly matters. While the challenge lasts one day, your contribution will last a lifetime by changing the trajectory of our Knights’ lives — and the world. Thank you again, Knight Nation.