Pitt Is Awarded “Best of the Best” By the United Way

Issue Date: 
June 16, 2014

Some Pitt volunteers made crocks full of homemade soup to sell at an event. The School of Social Work held a friendly competition to see which of the school’s four floors in the Cathedral of Learning could collect the most money. At the Petersen Events Center, health sciences faculty dribbled against each other in a basketball tournament and raffled off balls signed by Pitt’s basketball coaches. In all, the activities that took place across campus last fall resulted in the most successful United Way charity fundraising campaign in the University of Pittsburgh’s history.

Pitt was honored June 5 with a Best of the Best Award from the United Way of Allegheny County, which said the University’s 2013 campaign “epitomized excellence in planning and organization, creativity, dedication, and results.” The award was announced during the United Way Campaign Celebration luncheon at the Westin Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. It is given to a member of the United Way’s Hall of Fame, which includes more than 30 companies and organizations that the United Way recognizes as “role models for leadership in and commitment to our community.” Pitt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Pitt’s 2013 campaign, which took place during the fall semester, raised $665,001 in overall pledges—the fourth consecutive year that the University has broken its own fundraising record. Pitt has been an enthusiastic participant in the United Way’s campaign, raising more than $10 million in donations since 1997. This year, the gifts came from 2,505 Pitt employees, 705 of whom were new donors.

“The University of Pittsburgh is exceedingly proud of this ‘Best of the Best’ recognition,” said G. Reynolds Clark, vice chancellor for external relations and Pitt’s United Way campaign cochair. “Our success is based on three things: a tradition of giving at Pitt, communication among volunteer United Way representatives across campus, and a core group of volunteers who, year after year, walk the walk by donating personal gifts as well as their time to fundraising efforts. I applaud my Pitt colleagues on their continued support of the United Way.” 

Campaign cochair Loren H. Roth, associate senior vice chancellor for clinical policy and planning in the Schools of the Health Sciences and Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, is among those who donated time to creative fundraisers for the United Way campaign. He helped organize a three-game basketball competition Nov. 6 at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt medical students played medical residents, the School of Medicine faculty played other faculty from the health sciences, and the winners of those two games faced one another in a final match-up. Pitt’s medical students won the tournament. In addition, basketballs signed by Pitt’s basketball coaches were raffled off and attendees were invited to make a $25 contribution to shoot a foul shot.

“The wonderful thing was that it was so evident the players were enjoying themselves,” recalled Roth. “And we really increased the visibility of the United Way campaign and its importance.”

In Point Breeze, staffers from within the University Library System lined up to buy bowls of hot soup on a chilly October day. Employees, including several retirees, volunteered to bring in crockpots of homemade soup, raising close to $1,000.

“Everyone is so willing to pitch in and help out,” said Liz Radis, a senior library specialist who helped organize the event. “The soup is so delicious. I think next year we may raise our prices!”

Other units across campus held auctions, pancake breakfasts, cookouts, and an electronics recycling event to raise money. Faculty and staff also contributed online and through payroll deductions. And Pitt’s unionized employees made a notable difference this year. Members of SEIU Local 32BJ, Pittsburgh Building and Construction Trades, Operating Local 95, Teamsters 249, and the Pitt Police increased their overall giving by 12 percent in participation and 11 percent in dollars. In addition to fundraising efforts, Pitt hosted one of the largest United Way Day of Caring events in Allegheny County last fall. About 360 members of the staff and faculty volunteered at 24 locations throughout the city on Sept. 24.

The campaign for the United Way of Allegheny County, which supports critical community initiatives and partners with charities and nonprofit organizations across the county, is the University’s most comprehensive community fundraising effort. Visit www.unitedway.pitt.edu for more information.