Campaign Update


Given to UBC in 2011/12, from 19,302 different Donors


Alumni engaged with the University in 2011/2012

The past year has been a momentous one for UBC as, together with our donors and alumni, we launched the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history. The start an evolution campaign aims to raise $1.5 billion dollars for students, research and community engagement and to double the number of alumni involved annually in the life of the university by 2015.

We have made tremendous progress in our first year of the public phase of the campaign, raising $194 million in 2011/12 – making a total of $900million so far – and engaging 35,000 alumni over the same period. 2,500 alumni donated their time and skill as volunteers. It is an inspiring start that will keep us focused on the enormous task we still have ahead.

UBC alumni are perfectly placed to help their university realize its ambitions: to improve our world through innovative community partnerships; to support the student experience; and to act as advocates and ambassadors. Whether you are attending an event, mentoring a student, serving in an advisory capacity, or donating to a project that is close to your heart, I urge you to stay invested in your university.

This year’s Report on Giving (you can read it at does not focus only on numbers, but on the effect those numbers have had and the lives we have touched together. It’s full of stories of how our donors, many of them alumni, have helped to make changes. Most of these stories are about individuals, and how their lives have been affected by the work we do at UBC. But more than that, they’re about communities, about how our community of donors and alumni has joined with the university to build a better future here in British Columbia and around the world.

Thank you for your continuing support of UBC.

Professor Stephen J. Toope
President and Vice-Chancellor

Campaign Update

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Inspired to Give Back

It’s a start I’ll never forget,” states Marya Sopova when asked about the housing and living assistance provided by UBC. For Marya, the opportunity to complete her education marked the beginning of a transformative journey as a special education teacher. This extraordinary educator has now paid it forward by establishing a new bursary for single mothers in the Faculty of Education.

Marya was a stay at home mom when she divorced in the 1970s. “I was given $350 per month in alimony to cover rent, food, and clothing for three children, and I didn’t know what to do,” she explains. “I had no formal training for employment.”

Although Marya wanted to return to university and complete her education, the prospect looked bleak. At a friend’s suggestion, she presented her story to the Dean of Women. “I was given a two bedroom townhouse at Oyama Court right on campus,” says Marya. “I couldn’t get over the fact I had a place to live, and I could continue with my education.”

Two years later, Marya was employed by the Langley School District as one of the first special education teachers in BC. She showed a natural talent for unlocking the imagination, energy, and curiosity children possess.

“I couldn’t get over the fact I had a place to live, and I could continue with my education.”

Five years after that, she applied to the Ministry of Education’s Go North plan and was seconded to teach in Lower Post and Good Hope Lake. “While many of the children possessed remarkable skills, their literacy levels were far below average,” explains Marya. By making her lessons culturally relevant, Marya worked with her students’ interests and strengths in an attempt to improve their reading challenges. After one year she was offered the post of principal in Good Hope Lake.

Marya eventually returned to Langley where she worked until retirement. Along the way she touched numerous lives, enabling students to improve themselves through the gift of education. Today, Marya remains a powerful advocate for literacy and education.

“Graduating from UBC has given me a life I never imagined,” emphasizes Marya. “And that’s the reason for creating this bursary – I wanted to give back what was given to me. My desire is to inspire others to donate funds or establish bursaries for students in need, so they may also realize the joy of becoming productive citizens.”

Partnering with UBC

Maureen Jack-LaCroix, BA’74, discovered her passion for protecting the environment while studying at UBC, but wasn’t sure of the best way to help. She has since found her calling and now collaborates with UBC students to promote responsible habits at the grassroots level.

“An intergenerational mix is key to the changes that are coming about right now,” says Jack-LaCroix, who is the founder of Be The Change Earth Alliance, (BTC) a non-profit charitable organization that encourages people to make sustainable and just lifestyle choices through programming in schools, communities and the workplace. “I had significant environmental concerns while in school but I didn’t feel empowered to share them. It took a while to develop my voice.” So she is helping current UBC students to find theirs sooner.

Jack-LaCroix’s organization has partnered with UBC-Community Learning Initiative to provide valuable community-based learning experiences for third year Sociology students studying natural resource issues. They mentored students from John Oliver High School working with BTC’s Student Leadership in Sustainability program. By facilitating weekly Action Circles on environmental concerns and discussing different steps they could take to raise awareness of ecology in school and at home, students influenced a number of actions including everything from turning off the lights at lunch hour, to locating recycling bins beside garbage cans, to asking parents to buy low flush toilets.

“Be The Change has really benefitted from the energy, enthusiasm, optimism and intelligence of bright young people.”

The university students not only encouraged awareness and the adoption of good habits, but gained insight into how change takes place in a real-world setting and what some of the obstacles are. “Right now we’re in the midst of a significant shift in worldview,” said Jack-LaCroix. “It’s one thing to theorize about these changes. It’s another thing entirely to work with people and support them to create real change.”

In addition to partnering with the sociology students, Jack-LaCroix hosted two interns from the Faculty of Arts Internship Program and worked with students in the Sauder School of Business on developing a social media plan to raise awareness about the use of disposable cups. “Be The Change has really benefitted from the energy, enthusiasm, optimism and intelligence of bright young people,” she says, “I highly recommend that other organizations get involved with UBC and its students.”

Through these creative partnerships with UBC, Jack-LaCroix hopes to encourage the next generation to voice their concerns. “Politicians respond to voters and corporations respond to consumers,” she says. “Although individual changes may seem insignificant, we can have a huge influence when we make conscious choices in alignment with our values.”


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