Anonymous Donor Gives $20,000 in Matching Funds for Annual UCR Dance Marathon

Februrary 22nd event raises scholarship funds for students emancipated from foster care system

Members of the Dance Marathon 2013 board hold up the amount raised at the event. This year, the board hopes to raise more than $20,000.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — For the last two years, the Dance Marathon at UC Riverside has been an evening of students dancing the night away while raising funds for the campus’ Guardian Scholars program, which provides a network of resources to students who are “aging out” or “emancipating” from the foster care system to aid them in their pursuit of higher education.

But for this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. to midnight in UCR Aberdeen-Inverness Dining Hall, the fundraising component has taken on much more significance as an anonymous donor has guaranteed to match the funds raised by students, up to a total of $20,000.

“We have seen some amazing growth in the Guardian Scholars program over the last five-plus years, but this $20,000 challenge grant has the possibility to take our program to a new level of service and security,” said Student Affairs Officer Alyssa Heckmann, an advisor for the event.

Now in its third year, the Dance Marathon isn’t a race or a contest, but a six-hour dance party featuring games, hourly drawings, student performances, and more. Members of the UCR community, including students, staff and faculty, who want to attend must raise a minimum of $25 dollars, either through online fundraising or personal solicitation. Some students form fundraising groups, while others raise money individually.

The Dance Marathon has been a major student-driven fundraiser for the event, raising $17,486.80 on 2013 and $14,734.14 in 2012. But organizers hope that the $20,000 challenge grant will motivate the UCR community to reach that next level.

“We want to get every penny of that $20,000 to help emancipated students here at UCR,” said junior math major Fannie Martinez, director of marketing for the event. “This program can help make a huge difference in the lives of the 70% of emancipated teens who want to go to college.”

Martinez added that research shows that less than one percent of emancipated students graduate from a four-year university and within 18 months between 40-50% become homeless.

The Dance Marathon is co-sponsored by the Student Alumni Association and Golden Key International. For more information, visit their website. You can also make a donation at their Crowdrise website.

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