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Cal Athletics Fund Celebrates Philanthropic Success

The Cal Athletics family has inspired us with its resiliency and determination to support exceptional experiences for our student-athletes despite the uncertain landscape facing our world. The Cal Athletics Fund is excited to report that it raised $36,069,047 in gifts and pledges this past fiscal year to enhance Cal Athletics’ mission to be the model for intercollegiate excellence


We are grateful for everyone’s enthusiastic commitment to build our championship culture in the classroom, in competition and in the community, propelling our student-athletes to reach new heights in these areas this past school year. Behind the support of 6,776 donors who accounted for 12,494 gifts and pledges, the Cal Athletics Fund surpassed its original $35 million goal and eclipsed the $30 million mark for the second straight year. 


“We are blown away by the loyalty of the Golden Bear family during these sobering times,” said Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton. “This past year’s collaborative efforts of our community will play an instrumental role in our department navigating an evolving academic and athletic environment for the 2020-21 school year.”


The UC Berkeley campus-wide campaign Light the Way launched on Feb. 29, and several weeks after that, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed our lives. With new financial challenges facing the University and Cal Athletics, your support is now more crucial than ever. Despite the tough times, we are pleased to report that we have raised $216 million of our $350 million campaign goal (61.7 percent), with supporters having until Dec. 31, 2023, to make a gift or pledge.


It is exciting to see our student-athlete alumni thrive after graduation and subsequently decide to help current Golden Bears pursue their dreams. Of note, 1,487 student-athlete alumni made gifts in fiscal year 2020, including 133 first-time supporters. All told, we appreciate the contributions of 1,024 first-time donors who collectively gave $3,865,257 (average gift of $3,775) to help us face the opportunities and challenges ahead. 


During this past year, nearly $11 million in gifts to our department’s annual funds directly shaped our student-athletes’ experiences. Additionally, we received more than $15 million in commitments for endowment support, providing long-term benefits for current and future generations of Golden Bears. Your generosity helped our student-athletes earn 229 all-academic selections, 42 All-America honors, three National Player of the Year awards, and 18 first-team all-conference accolades. In addition, 26 teams posted grade-point averages of at least 3.0 this past year.

Seven gifts, which each hit or exceeded the $1 million mark, provided a transformational impact for Cal Athletics. Lynda Brothers ’68 made an estate gift of $10.8 million to support scholarships for six women’s sports teams — one of the largest single-donor gifts ever to Cal. Former Cal Director of Women’s Athletics Luella Lilly made a legacy gift of $1.275 million to create the Dr. Luella J. Lilly Academic-Athletic Excellence Award Endowment Fund and to support two current softball endowment funds. In addition, Stu Gordon ’62 & ’65 gifted $1.1 million from his estate to enhance his tremendous support of our baseball program. Gordon has been a passionate and steadfast supporter of Cal Athletics, and this latest commitment comes in addition to a $2 million gift to the baseball program made the previous fiscal year.


Cementing their Cal Athletics’ academic legacy, Pat and Kent ’60 & ’64 Newmark contributed $1 million to endow the Newmark Awards in perpetuity. The honors are given annually to the Golden Bears’ athletics programs with the highest cumulative grade point average and to the team with the most improved GPA.

In 2020, we celebrated the establishment of the first Cal women’s head coaching endowment — the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey in honor of the program’s first head coach — thanks to a pair of $1 million gifts from Tom Shaffer ’79 and his mother, Abbey, and Emily ’81 Risberg and her husband, Jeff Risberg. 


Special thanks to Rodney Friedman ’56 for continuing his family’s outstanding support of Cal men’s rowing — this time with a $1 million gift to create a scholarship in honor of his late wife, Shirley Friedman, who also was a passionate supporter of the program. Friedman’s efforts were supported by the Rogers family, whose steadfast support and leadership are synonymous with Cal men’s rowing. 


We took significant strides this past year towards funding new modern facilities for our softball and beach volleyball programs, driven by the leadership of Bill Ausfahl ’61, Lynda Brothers ’68, Brad Brian ’74 and many other dedicated supporters. The Gender Equity Campaign has made outstanding progress, and through your continued generosity, we hope to break ground on both transformative endeavors in 2021.

Inspired by a tremendous $12.5 million lead gift from Bryan Cameron in fiscal year 2019, the Cameron Institute launched this fall after more than a year of planning. The innovative program will be guided by The California Way model — a set of aspirational outcomes positioning our student-athletes to flourish while at UC Berkeley and for a lifetime. 


Our student-athletes depend on the passionate support of the Cal community to achieve academic and athletic success. Every gift matters and inspires us to help current and future generations of student-athletes reach their full potential at Cal and beyond.


“We are beyond grateful for everyone’s support to raise essential resources to help the annual and long-term goals of Cal Athletics,” said Chief Development Officer Brian Mann. “There are many unknowns ahead of us, but I’m confident our loyal supporters and newly engaged individuals will help us through this challenging time, and our student-athletes will continue to be phenomenal ambassadors for the university.”


If you have questions about supporting one of our 30 sports programs, the Gender Equity Campaign for new softball and beach volleyball facilities, the Cameron Institute for student-athlete development, or to make a Light the Way campaign gift, please contact the Cal Athletics Fund at or 510-642-2427. Visit for more details.

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