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And the winners of Big Give Live are … Cal parents!

Campanile in sillouette with stars

By Alex Rodríguez

Cal Band … still providing foot-stomping entertainment virtually. Volunteers Around the World … sending Cal students to Guatemala, Cambodia and other countries to provide medical assistance and health education. Formula Electric at Berkeley … designing sustainable transportation technology.

These are just three of more than 1,200 student-run organizations whose work impacts the campus and global community alike and who rely on fundraising to help them realize their goals. But how did student organizations fundraise — and how did the university teach them about philanthropy — during the pandemic? Enter a group of Cal Parent donors.

I would like to thank all the Cal Parent donors. We really appreciate this money and will be putting it to use to develop, build and race Cal’s first ever electric race car!

– a student member of Formula Electric at Berkeley, which is designing sustainable transportation technology

This past spring, parents, staff and volunteers from Cal Student Philanthropy teamed up to host Big Give Live!, the first-ever trivia contest event during Big Give, Cal’s annual online fundraising event. As more student organizations have joined Big Give each year, its goal has grown to show that fundraising can be fun — and educational.

In the inaugural contest, students answered trivia about Berkeley buildings and programs supported by philanthropy, such as which buildings are open 24 hours during finals (answer: Moffit Library, Eshleman Hall and MLK Student Union) and where students can go for academic support (answer: Student Learning Center). The top 10 students won prize money for their organization of choice. This prize money, which totaled $2,600, came from Cal parent donors.

After two close rounds, Cal Student Philanthropy crowned 19 winners, who dedicated their prize money to 14 different organizations, including Cal Band and Model United Nations, in which students simulate UN roles. While $2,600 might sound insignificant, it has a big impact on student groups.

Big Give, and the generosity of our donors, offers another channel for boosting the educational experience by directly supporting what students themselves want to support. Big Give Live! will continue to be a hallmark of our revitalized student philanthropy program — educating students, impacting their organizations and connecting Cal families. We can’t wait to see who will win next year!

Contact Alex Rodríguez at if your student is interested in joining Cal Student Philanthropy in the 2021-22 school year.

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