Unrestricted donor fund opens opportunities for more flexible philanthropy

Through the UW Fund, donors can make an immediate impact where it's needed most

Above: Presidential Scholar Andy Manzano has worked with Young Executives of Color, the Office of Multicultural Outreach & Recruitment, Upward Bound and other organizations building more inclusive communities on campus.

“From the moment I received the Presidential Scholarship,” he says, “it’s been a life of service—to be a part of that process for somebody else.”

Two years ago, the world learned how quickly everything could change. While the COVID-19 pandemic was threatening lives, it was also exposing and magnifying systemic inequities—ones we continue to grapple with today.

“In my 30-plus years as an educator and member of the Husky community,” wrote UW President Ana Mari Cauce earlier this year, “I have never experienced a time of such dramatic and rapid change.”

As our state’s flagship public university, the UW plays a critical role at the nexus of challenge and opportunity—constantly identifying, studying and addressing the challenges faced by our state, our country and our world. Many of these challenges didn’t start with the pandemic and won’t end when it does. In our swiftly evolving environment, it’s more critical than ever that the University work creatively and strategically to meet the needs of the students, families and public we serve.

And philanthropy drives the UW’s ability to act quickly and meaningfully. While supporting specific UW causes and units is crucial to our public-serving mission, gifts to flexible funds like the University of Washington Fund have a unique impact. These are gifts that University leadership can direct for greatest effect—so they can be quickly used to meet current priorities and emerging opportunities.

When you support an unrestricted fund in a UW department or contribute to a University-wide fund such as the UW Fund, you power the UW’s ability to make a difference in the world. Read on for examples of how flexible funds create lasting change at the UW and beyond.


In June 2020, amid a global reckoning for racial justice and equity, leaders on all three UW campuses supported establishing Black Opportunity Funds, to help address the systemic racism and inequities harming the Black community—and increase opportunities for Black UW students, faculty and staff.

Many UW supporters had been asking for such a fund to give to, and University leadership responded quickly, designating additional flexible funding to amplify donors’ generosity. The Black Opportunity Funds award grants to UW students, faculty and staff to support the University’s Black community, educational enhancement and innovative projects. So far, grants have been awarded to student organizations, programs for student success and retention, and research grants to study issues impacting Black students. At UW Tacoma, recent University commitments to the Black Opportunity Funds will also support community partnerships; at UW Bothell, they also power a need-based scholarship for students experiencing housing insecurity, job insecurity, or mental health and wellness challenges.

When the UW launched the Black Opportunity Funds, President Ana Mari Cauce and Rickey Hall, vice president for minority affairs & diversity and university diversity officer, wrote that supporting the funds would “increase opportunities for Black UW students, faculty and staff to thrive. And when we do that, we will all be better for it.”


When donors John and Rosalind Jacobi established an endowed deanship in the UW College of Built Environments (CBE), they wanted to strengthen the school’s vision of a more just and beautiful world for all.

The Jacobis’ endowment provides significant funding that can be used as priorities develop and opportunities arise in the CBE. Renée Cheng, inaugural John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Endowed Dean, will start by using the funds to expand access to integrated student advising, mentoring and internship programs—helping expose CBE students to a breadth of educational experiences, connections between departments, and new possibilities.

These are gifts University leadership can direct for greatest effect—quickly used to meet current priorities and emerging opportunities.

“Students are the heart of our college,” says Cheng, emphasizing the CBE’s commitment to nurturing and challenging current and future generations of students. Thanks to gifts like the Jacobis’, the CBE will be able to act quickly and meaningfully, deepening the college’s impact
on students and faculty, both within the UW and across the community.


Last fall, Creative Destruction Lab—a nonprofit seed-stage program for developing massively scalable science- and technology-based companies—launched its third U.S. location: CDL–Seattle, based at the UW’s Michael G. Foster School of Business.

Supported partly by philanthropic funding spent at the direction of President Cauce, this partnership will start with a focus on computational health—an interdisciplinary field combining health and computer sciences. In a collaboration with Microsoft, the UW College of Engineering, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and CoMotion, the UW’s collaborative innovation hub, CDL–Seattle will bring experienced entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and economists to serve as mentors to participating tech startups. And CDL–Seattle will strengthen the student experience, says Foster School Dean Frank Hodge: “It will offer students a highly experiential, hands-on entrepreneurial education.”

Already recognized as hubs for cloud computing, AI, machine learning and biotech, Washington state and Seattle have all the ingredients to power the next wave of computational health—and CDL–Seattle will help forge those connections. Together, we can improve the health-care landscape: helping optimize individual health care, using population health data to address inequities, mapping the immune system and more.


The UW is devoted to preparing the next generation of global citizens and leaders—beginning here in Washington state with the UW Presidential Scholarship program. Launched in 2018 with a gift from William and Pamela Ayer, this signature scholarship goes beyond grades and checked boxes to recognize UW applicants from Washington who are already leading by example, using their talents and creativity to make an impact in their communities.

Covering nearly all tuition costs and including a customized leadership and mentorship program, the Presidential Scholarship program has produced graduates who will go on to be leaders in our state and beyond. Thanks to philanthropy that President Cauce was able to direct to this program, the UW is growing the Presidential Scholarship Endowment—expanding our ability to attract and support Washington’s standout student leaders.

Andy Manzano, ’23, is one such rising star making the most of his Presidential Scholarship. The business administration major has helped high schoolers from low-income families and underserved communities chart a path to higher education and contributed to a more inclusive campus environment. Through internships, Manzano is gaining the skills and connections to help make organizations more equitable.

“This scholarship was my key to higher education,” Manzano says. “But I didn’t realize how far that impact would go.”


Donors play a pivotal role in helping the University improve and transform our communities, state and world.

When you make a gift to the UW fund, or to an unrestricted fund within a UW department, you help the University move quickly to address urgent and emerging needs—so it can direct its power toward doing the most good.

However you choose to donate to the University of Washington, our students, faculty and staff—and all those we serve—couldn’t be more grateful for your generosity.