When UT-Knoxville alum Chad Goldman set out with a plan to privately fund the Pride Center at his alma mater, he didn't assume the very first event would raise 10% of the target amount.
"I’m thrilled with what the group achieved," he said. "We are very lucky to have a fantastic committee of dedicated people who each contributed not only their own money, but also brought their own networks of donors to the launch. The $300K raised was on the very optimistic end my hopes."
Concerned the LGBT center on campus would always remain on dubious ground, given the state legislature's give and take with regard to funding for operations, Goldman figured a logical alternative—one that would remove the political layer entirely from the center's operations fund—would be the creation of an endowment.
In an interview with O&AN last month, he said a $3 million investment will permanently endow the LGBT center.
According to Goldman, the response to this initial event, which was held in a private home in Nashville, has been overwhelming.
"Attendance was robust with a mixture of local Nashville UT graduates, friends of the university, and fair-minded people who want to help," he said. "Notably, UT’s Dean Theresa Lee of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Students Shea Kidd Houze, US Congressman Jim Cooper, and of course Chancellor Beverly Davenport were in attendance. The energy was high from the very beginning and kept rising all the through the moment we asked for financial commitments. A big surprise for me was how EAGER people were to give. Coming from a professional fundraising background, I know from experience that a good bit of arm-twisting is needed to raise money. Not in this case."
The initiative, called Vol Means All, will hold similar events in other cities with large UT alumni populations. Goldman asks that anyone who is interested to contribute to visit the website in order to donate and/or RSVP for an event in their area. "In the next few weeks, we’ll also be starting our social media outreach to drive contributions from donors nationwide," he said.
Photo at top: (left to right) Rep Jim Cooper, UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport, and Chad Goldman