Glow Big Red pivots to Snow Big Red, sets records

Husker Nation sticks together in all kinds of weather.

As 11 inches of snow piled up in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Thursday, so did donations to Glow Big Red, setting records for the annual giving event for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. With a quick pivot to Snow Big Red, the 24-hour campaign drew support from snowed-in supporters across Nebraska and from people in every U.S. state and nine countries.

In all, UNL’s Glow Big Red campaign (which ran from noon Wednesday to noon Thursday) collected 5,185 gifts totaling $653,246.

Glow Big Red is the annual event during which supporters come together to raise funds for student scholarships and programs. In honor of the campaign’s fifth year, this year’s goal was 5,000 gifts.

“I am so thankful to all who supported this year’s Glow Big Red,” Chancellor Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D., said. “For five years in a row, our students, alumni, faculty, staff and the Husker community at large have given generously to support this annual campaign. You are making the University of Nebraska a better place to educate and inspire today’s students and the next generation.”

Glow Big Red started in 2019 in recognition of the university’s 150th anniversary.

The event, organized by the University of Nebraska Foundation, offered a wide range of opportunities to “Glow All In” in support of students in each college as well as to support the university’s many organizations and affiliates. On Wednesday, the North Stadium’s HuskerVision screen was lit up in Memorial Stadium to promote Glow Big Red.

More than 100 campus-based student organizations and groups participated in this year’s Glow Big Red. Among them is the Afrikan People’s Union, a Black student government organization that advocates for cultural awareness, community service and education.

UNL student Cameron Cannon, treasurer of the Afrikan People’s Union, said the union helps students to develop as leaders, encourages friendships and connections across campus, and puts on community events, such as a banquet last month honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“It definitely helps students to feel like they belong on campus and helps them to get active and think about the things they can do to really cultivate the change they want to see,” he said.

Funds also were raised for scholarships and to aid students with other financial needs.

The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA) plans to use funds raised during the event to cover the cost of textbooks and other academic supplies for students. The college-access program prepares first-generation Nebraska students from income-eligible families for college and their future careers.

“The program is set up to give scholars the freedom to enter their professional careers with a strong community of support and without the added burden of student loan debt. Donor support is critical to achieving this goal,” said Moises Padilla, director of NCPA.

NCPA serves students from four Nebraska high schools, providing mentoring and support beginning in eighth grade and continuing through their time at UNL. Padilla said NCPA would like to expand its footprint to other high schools in the state, and donor support is essential to making that happen.

Gifts were made on the Glow Big Red website, where full results are available. The event has garnered momentum and more philanthropic support for the university each year.

Largely driven by social media, supporters used #GlowBigRed to share their personal stories and why the university matters to them.

UNL student Claire Klein, president of the Insect Science Club, encouraged donations to her club using the moniker Glow Bug Red. The club helps students learn about insects and their importance to the environment, as well as careers in the field of entomology.

Klein said funds raised during Glow Big Red will pay for a field trip and private tour of entomology exhibits at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha.

“I’ve always been passionate about insects. I think they’re beautiful,” she said. “I enjoy the research side of entomology.”

Donors to the Glow Big Red campaign will count toward Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future. Announced last fall, the campaign has a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at OnlyinNebraska.org.

About the University of Nebraska Foundation

The University of Nebraska Foundation grows relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives. During the most recent fiscal year, a record 60,571 donors gave $300.6 million to the foundation to aid UNL, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The foundation raises more than $7 for every $1 it spends. Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future is its current campaign.

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