Giving

The million-dollar Leavey Challenge

The million-dollar Leavey Challenge
by Jeff Gire |
SCU can receive a major grant—but needs gifts from 9,000 undergraduate alumni to make it happen.

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, a longtime supporter of the University, has issued the Leavey Challenge to SCU: a $1 million grant on the condition that 9,000 alumni make a gift of any size to SCU before June 30, 2013.

In approving the grant, Kathleen McCarthy, head of the Leavey Foundation Board, praised the “long, meaningful relationship with Santa Clara.” Why leverage this with a participation grant? “Consistent financial giving by an increasing percentage of alumni speaks effectively to those looking at the University from outside who possess the ability to help—and it becomes contagious among alumni over time,” she says.

News media and foundations use alumni giving as a measurement of overall alumni satisfaction. This plays a role in determining both university rankings as well as support from corporations and foundations.

Last year, alumni giving at Santa Clara reached 8,145 undergraduate alumni—or 21.42 percent. The Challenge asks SCU to top that record by 855 gifts this year and to reach a participation rate of 23 percent—the highest mark for SCU since 2003. If the Challenge is met, the $1 million will go toward the Santa Clara Fund, which helps current students through scholarships, providing student research opportunities, supporting study abroad, and more.

SCU trustee and Leavey Foundation board member Lou Castruccio ’60 added, “Alumni happy with their experience who want to help continue SCU’s tradition of quality education can provide tangible evidence of that desire with any amount of financial support. It certainly isn’t the only form of support, but it is a widely recognizable and important one.”

While alumni may be familiar with the Leavey name from the business school and event center on campus, the Leavey Foundation has a long history with the University that dates back to Thomas Leavey ’22 and his days as an undergraduate student. Following his time at Santa Clara, Leavey graduated from the Georgetown University School of Law.

He proved that the Jesuit ideals he surrounded himself with in school could translate to the business world when he co-founded a company based on a square deal. The premise: Rural car drivers got into fewer accidents than those in the city, and should have lower car insurance rates. The company: Farmers Insurance. In 1952, Thomas and his wife Dorothy Risley Leavey created the Leavey Foundation.

Summer 2014

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