A female graduate wearing gown and mortarboard in silhouette against a sunset sky

Northeastern Illinois University completes $12 million Transforming Lives fundraising campaign

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Northeastern Illinois University has successfully completed the institution’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Northeastern Illinois University raised more than $12.87 million to support student scholarships, academic research and campus life.

“We are so thankful to our alumni, faculty, staff, friends and even current students who generously gave to Northeastern Illinois University,” President Gloria J. Gibson said. “This accomplishment is a direct investment in the next generation of leaders in Chicago and beyond.”

The funds raised by the NEIU Foundation included the creation of 76 new scholarships, the first endowment of a faculty position, the first faculty research scholarship and an emergency fund to assist students with essential expenses during periods of temporary and unexpected hardship. In total, 5,944 individuals contributed $12,878,881. More than 3,500 of the campaign’s donors were new contributors to the NEIU Foundation.

Among the new donors was Gibson, who was appointed president in June 2018 and immediately founded a scholarship in honor of her parents. The James and Grace Gibson Scholarship will provide financial support for underrepresented students—especially those from her hometown of East St. Louis, Ill.—to attend Northeastern.

“Let this successful campaign be a call to our alumni and friends in Chicago, across Illinois, throughout the country and overseas: Come home,” Gibson said. “We are building something special, and we want you to be a part of this exciting journey.”

Transforming Lives publicly launched in the middle of a prolonged state budget crisis on April 7, 2017, with a kickoff event attended by presidents past and present, trustees, students, alumni, faculty, staff, NEIU Foundation Board members and close friends of Northeastern. Northeastern announced a stretch goal of $12 million in February 2018 after the campaign surpassed the initial $10 million goal with 11 months to spare.

“When this campaign launched, we asked, ‘What can $10 million do for Northeastern Illinois University?’” Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation Liesl Downey said. “Now we’re about to find out what almost $13 million can do thanks to our generous community of donors.”

Among the students who have already benefitted from the campaign is Social Work major Gloria Inés Orozco Dorado, who earned the newly created Max Graves Moody Spirit of Innovation Scholarship to support her travel to Colombia to teach music. The scholarship was founded by President Emerita Sharon Hahs and her husband, Billy Hahs.

“This trip had an important impact on my life,” Orozco Dorado said. “It convinced me that I would like to continue doing this type of work after I graduate from Northeastern. It has become very important to me to work in underserved communities. This scholarship helped me grow as a person and an educator.”

While the Transforming Lives campaign was publicly launched in 2017, its roots trace back to 2014, when then-President Hahs recognized the University’s 150-year anniversary as an ideal time to launch a campaign. As is typical for university campaigns, the NEIU Foundation quietly raised $6 million toward the campaign before the public kickoff.

Much of the success of Transforming Lives can be attributed to the Goodwin Gift Challenge, in which alumnus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Daniel L. Goodwin pledged an unprecedented $2.5 million. Goodwin served as one of three honorary co-chairs for the campaign, along with Presidents Emerita Hahs and Salme Harju Steinberg.

Goodwin made an initial $1 million grant to the NEIU Foundation in December of 2014. The remainder of the gift came in the form of the Goodwin Gift Challenge, in which he encouraged others to contribute to the NEIU Foundation by matching gifts up to a total of $500,000 annually through 2018.

“I wanted to inspire the Northeastern community to contribute to this wonderful university that is so vital to the communities it serves,” Goodwin said. “With each passing year, the Challenge’s goal was met earlier and earlier. I am proud of all of my fellow Golden Eagles who are now active supporters of Northeastern Illinois University, and I am eager to see what comes next.”