Crowdfunding is New Way to Support UConn Programs

Leadership class offered to Pharmacy students
A leadership class offered to Pharmacy students, one of several Close to Home crowdfunding causes. (Credit: UConn Photo)

This year for the first time, UConn employees can create an online giving page to promote a UConn cause they are passionate about to their co-workers. This is a new initiative as part of the Close to Home Campaign.

Faculty, staff, and retirees can donate directly to research and programs at UConn through special crowdfunding pages that their colleagues have set up. It’s the newest option for employees who want to give to the Close to Home Campaign, running through Dec. 31.

The pages allow these employees to multiply the power of their gift through their network of colleagues. They can share the page or social media or directly with co-workers to promote their cause.

“Crowdfunding really lets people promote causes they personally feel passionate about,” said Lauren Ellis Grabowski ’09 (CLAS), assistant director of annual giving at the UConn Foundation.

So far, faculty and staff have created 10 crowdfunding pages to promote specific causes, such as breast cancer research, scholarships, and female undergraduates majoring in science, math, and engineering.

Lauren S. Schlesselman ’94 (PHARM), ’12, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Pharmacy, set up a crowdfunding page for her passion: leadership training in healthcare professions.

Her page raises funds for training she hopes to offer students majoring in nursing, physical therapy, and other health professions. She wants to expand the leadership track program that she now runs for pharmacy students, which provides courses, projects, community outreach, and mentoring experiences.

Mary Ann Phaneuf, program administrator in the School of Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Education, set up a crowdfunding page for scholarships because she remembers how much her scholarship meant to her.

“I know when I went to school, scholarships helped me to achieve my personal success and this fund is my way of giving back and making an impact,” Phaneuf said. “I love seeing the energy and excitement of students around campus once they receive this scholarship and know that these contributions are a catalyst for funding their academic success.”

Besides crowdfunding, there are still other more traditional ways to give to the Close to Home Campaign. Employees can make a payroll deduction as low as $1 per pay period or give an annual gift in support of UConn. Faculty and staff can give to any area of UConn as part of the Close to Home Campaign.

The fundraising campaign began as a way to encourage employees, including emeriti and retired faculty and staff, to make a gift to the University in any area personally meaningful to them. During the last fiscal year, 1,732 faculty, staff, and retirees gave $3.1 million to the campaign.


For more information on crowdfunding or to make a donation, please visit the Close to Home Campaign website or contact Lauren Ellis Grabowski at or (860) 486-3132.