Young Alumni Pay It Forward

By Garrett West

April, 2018

When most people think of university donors, they imagine older alumni, established and successful in their careers, donating new buildings—or sports complexes—to the University. They probably do not think that young alumni just a few years out from graduation would be the ones rushing to give gifts. Lucky for us, recent Clark Honors College alumni are committed to supporting our alma mater.

In 2016 the UO launched a new initiative called #DucksGive. This campaign recognized that anything can be a gift, and everything makes a difference. Last May, for the second annual #DucksGive, the honors college challenged alumni to give 70 donations (of any size) within 24-hours. If we crossed that threshold and gave those gifts, then a much larger gift would be “unlocked.” Alumni of all ages, including many of my peers from the Class of 2014 (now mostly in graduate school), immediately mobilized on social media and unlocked the challenge at an incredible speed.

To jump start #DucksGive among my friends, I posted on facebook how to donate. Replies from honors college students and alumni cascaded in: Michael Sugar (Class of ‘13) spread the word by tagging his classmates, Aimee Fritsch (Class of ‘14) explained that the donations were for scholarships, Kevin Frazier (Class of ’16) said, “Go Platypus!” and many others posted comments like “Done!” or “Just Donated.” As the donations rolled in, we joined together to count down how many more donations we needed. We crossed the threshold later that evening and unlocked the big gift; a generous $100,000 donation from Brett and Mary Wilcox to support student scholarships. As a celebratory thank you, I shared pictures of Chapman Hall’s renovation and everyone was thrilled to see that they had saved some of the original woodwork for use in the renovated building.

Last year’s #DucksGive campaign was a massive success. During the one-day event 1,756 donors gave 2,155 gifts to the university, an incredible 30% increase in the number of donors and a 40% increase in the number of gifts from the prior year. The honors college itself received 100 gifts totaling $108,924, with most of those gifts at or below the $100 mark. Every gift was appreciated.

Recent graduates rallied to meet this fundraising challenge because we love the honors college and know how important alumni support was to our own college experience. We each chose to make supporting excellence in public higher education a priority. We know firsthand the value of a Clark Honors College education, and it’s now our turn to help make that opportunity available to others. The 2018 campaign is just around the corner, and there are many ways you can help:

  • Mark May 17th on your calendar for #DucksGive 2018 —many of us from the 2014 class are eagerly anticipating it!
  • Become a #DucksGive social media ambassador by signing up at
  • Like and follow the Clark Honors College facebook account to stay abreast of the latest updates – keep checking in to see what new challenges are available
  • On May 17th share the honors college’s posts about #DucksGive on your social media accounts, and encourage others to give
  • Make a #DucksGive gift of any size on the 17th and help us unlock bigger gifts!
  • Leverage your own philanthropy by making a challenge gift. For more information, please email Jen Parker at

Author Bio:


Garrett West

Garrett West graduated in 2014 as a triple major in classics, political science, and history. As an undergraduate, Garrett was president of both the Clark Honors College Student Association and our award-winning Mock Trial Team. He graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2017 as executive editor of the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, an associate in the Appellate Litigation Clinic, and a member of Georgetown’s prestigious Moot Court Team. He was recently sworn in as a member of the Oregon State Bar and is currently a campaign manager for a state senate race in Southern Oregon.