VCU Libraries secures $1 million Cabell Challenge grant

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VCU Libraries has achieved a major fundraising goal by matching a $1 million challenge from the Cabell Foundation. The fundraising challenge was issued by the foundation in December 2015, and VCU Libraries exceeded the $1 million goal 90 days before the deadline.

The Cabell Foundation, a prominent Central Virginia philanthropic group, seeks to make lasting, positive impact on the Richmond region by strengthening key educational and cultural institutions and projects. The challenge grant was intended to stimulate philanthropic support of VCU Libraries as well as provide essential funds to fulfill the rich promise of VCU’s new library building on its Monroe Park Campus. The challenge was a success on both fronts: VCU Libraries exceeded the monetary goal, and expanded its community of supporters, through a record 434 gifts and pledges from alumni, faculty, staff, community members and others.

This generous outpouring of gifts illustrates not only the breadth of support for VCU’s libraries but also the power of gifts of all amounts to make a difference. Of the 434 donations, four were $100,000 or more, 23 were $10,000–-$99,000, and the remaining contributions, making up the majority of donations, were $1,000 or less. The Cabell Foundation matched each donation dollar-for-dollar, bringing the campaign total to $2 million and doubling the impact of every gift, regardless of its size. The funds from the campaign have been invested in the New Building Fund, which enhances library spaces with new technology and equipment, and the Library of the Future Fund, which replaces and updates worn or outmoded furnishings and equipment. 

“We are so grateful to see the work of VCU Libraries and its important role at the university and in the community recognized with this vast outpouring of philanthropy,” said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider.  

Cabell Foundation Executive Director Jill A. McCormick said, “The foundation is pleased to support this important project for VCU and the Richmond community. I hear nothing but excitement about the building and the role it plays in fostering not only scholarship but a sense of place.”

“This is a momentous occasion for VCU Libraries. I am so pleased that our alumni and friends made the Cabell challenge a reality, helping VCU Libraries continue to provide world-class educational assistance to our students, faculty and community,” said Stephanie Lawson Holt, president of the Friends of VCU Libraries.

The combined efforts of The Cabell Foundation and donors demonstrate the enormous impact that can be made when like-minded community organizations and individuals come together and embrace the crucial importance of libraries to education and to Richmond, said Kelly Gotschalk, director of development and major gifts for VCU Libraries. The majority of gifts were given by alumni, which signals the importance and value of the libraries across disciplines, she said.

“The success of this challenge speaks to the value of the library to the university and to the community. There is not one school or unit at VCU that is not served in some way by VCU Libraries,” she said. “The spectrum of donors to this challenge is amazing. They come from all disciplines and areas of the university: alumni, faculty, staff and friends, and each and every gift helped us to reach our goal.”

To learn how you can support the libraries, contact Kelly Gotschalk, director of development and major gifts, at (804) 827-1163 or