MIT has announced the conclusion of its Campaign for a Better World, which raised $6.24 billion to support the Institute’s work on some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Altogether, 112,703 individuals and organizations contributed to the campaign, which was publicly launched in 2016 and formally ran from July 2011 to June 2021. Sixty-four percent of all donors were MIT alumni, while more than 56,000 donors made their first gift to MIT during the campaign.
“Everywhere I traveled throughout the campaign, I was struck by the energy and enthusiasm of our alumni and friends and by how deeply the ‘better world’ theme resonated with them,” says President L. Rafael Reif. “They understood instinctively that this is what MIT was made for. Thanks to the enthusiastic generosity of our donors at every scale, the campaign has already fueled vital advances to address some of the world’s most urgent challenges—and I know the progress has only just begun.”
In early 2019, MIT increased the campaign’s original $5 billion fundraising goal to $6 billion.
“Philanthropy is a powerful change-maker,” says Julie A. Lucas, MIT’s vice president for resource development. “Our donors want to advance world-shaking, moonshot ideas that can change life as we know it, like when a machine-learning model plays a key role in developing a vaccine, or an exoplanet is discovered, or breakthroughs are made in carbon-free energy production. They do these things by making sure MIT has the resources to nurture talent, meet unexpected opportunities, and pursue bold ideas.”
Strengthening MIT at its core
During the campaign, MIT raised $239 million for scholarships, an increase of 36% compared to the prior decade. Scholarships are the foundation of MIT’s commitment to need-blind undergraduate admission and a component of the Institute’s ability to provide a full range of support for students who have earned their place at MIT.
Additionally, $531 million was raised toward fellowships for MIT’s graduate students, an increase of 105 percent over the prior decade. This includes 100 graduate fellowships in the School of Engineering and the School of Science created by the mathematical computing software company MathWorks, cofounded by Jack Little ’78.
To empower MIT’s faculty and tap the full potential of rising stars, 90 professorships were created during the campaign.
Unrestricted giving to MIT increased by 67% compared to the previous decade, as alumni and friends signaled their confidence in MIT by making gifts of critical resources that can be directed wherever they are most needed by the MIT community. The campaign’s unrestricted funding helped advance early-stage ideas, supply vital equipment, renew existing buildings, and supplement financial aid.
“MIT is a singular magnet for science and technology talent from around the world,” says W. Eric L. Grimson PhD ʼ80, chancellor for academic advancement and the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering. “This campaign has put us on a firm footing. We have the resources to leverage the creativity of our faculty and students as they tackle the world’s great problems. And that’s only been possible through the support of our generous, farsighted donors.”
Advancing problem solving and discovery
Supported by the campaign, MIT scientists built on decades of research to advance mRNA vaccines to battle Covid-19, scanned space in search of planets beyond our solar system, and reached across disciplines to engage the era’s defining challenge, climate change. MIT researchers are unlocking the secrets of the brain and exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve health. MIT innovators promoted entrepreneurial creativity and crafted new ways to share learning across the world.
“MIT needs to remain the preeminent institution that it is, where researchers, policymakers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and the scientists of the future are born,” says Maria Zuber, the Institute’s vice president for research and the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics. “This would simply be impossible without philanthropic support. Every single mind can be the wellspring of something that can change the world, and we need every great idea that we can get.”
During the campaign, MIT announced the establishment of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, committed to addressing the global opportunities and challenges presented by the prevalence of computing and the rise of AI. An interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and the social and ethical responsibilities of computing, the college will be headquartered in a signature new building on MIT’s campus.
At the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research was founded to support research on the genetic, biological, and neural bases of autism spectrum disorder, while the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Center for Molecular Therapeutics in Neuroscience was launched as a major new research effort to change how we treat brain disorders. Both centers were made possible with commitments from Lisa Yang and Hock Tan ’75, SM ’75.
The MIT Quest for Intelligence was launched to discover the foundations of human and machine intelligence and develop technological tools to positively influence society. MIT.nano, a facility to make, measure, and image materials at the nanoscale, opened its doors at the center of campus. The Alana Down Syndrome Center was established to engage scientists and engineers in an effort to increase understanding of the biology and neuroscience of Down syndrome and improve the health, autonomy, and inclusion of people with this genetic condition.
The Schimmel Family Program for Life Sciences will support the Department of Biology’s Graduate Training Initiative and graduate students across MIT.
Endeavors supported by Community Jameel, the social enterprise organization founded and chaired by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78, sought practical solutions to complex global problems. The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, an anchor of MIT Open Learning, serves learners in the developing world, especially women and girls underserved by education, and a growing displaced population that includes refugees, while the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health aims to develop AI technologies to revolutionize the prevention, detection, and treatment of disease.
The King Climate Action Initiative, housed in MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, rigorously studies programs reducing the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, then works with policymakers to scale up the most successful interventions.
New spaces for collaboration, creativity, and innovation
Kendall Square, home to one of the world’s great concentrations of innovative companies and community organizations, continued to be transformed into a vibrant new gateway to MIT. The recently opened MIT InnovationHQ — which sits atop the newly created MIT Welcome Center and MIT Admissions — encompasses more than 25,000 square feet of space for innovation and entrepreneurship activities. A new residential tower provides 454 housing units for graduate students and families with children. The MIT Museum will soon take up residence on Main Street.
“Thinkers and doers, innovators and adopters, all are in proximity to and in direct contact with each other,” says Martin A. Schmidt SM ’83, PhD ’88, the Institute’s provost and the Ray and Maria Stata Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Innovation today is a contact sport that demands the continual interplay of people and ideas. This interplay is the hallmark of MIT. It’s the driving impulse behind the incredible research happening and the incredible buildings this campaign has enabled.”
The Metropolitan Storage Warehouse is being converted into a modern hub for interdisciplinary design research and education, a new home for the School of Architecture and Planning, and a location for the largest community-wide makerspace on campus run by MIT Project Manus. A new music building targeted for completion in 2024 will relocate MIT’s conservatory-level music program to the West Campus area and consolidate many of its activities under a single roof. The 2017 premiere of the Theater Arts Building on Vassar Street provided the Institute with its first facility dedicated to the performing arts.
A renovation of the landmark Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel created the most advanced academic wind tunnel in the nation. Building 2, home of the Department of Mathematics, was dedicated as the Simons Building in honor of James H. ’58 and Marilyn Simons, whose gift enabled MIT to restore and renovate the landmark building.
Building 52, an Art Deco landmark on Memorial Drive that is the original home of the MIT Sloan School of Management and headquarters of the Department of Economics, was named for Morris ’52, SM ’53, ME ’55 and Sophie Chang, who made a gift to restore and renovate the building. The New Vassar undergraduate residence hall on Vassar Street, Building W46, opens up the West Campus and provides students with a central residential location.
Alumni in record numbers engaged with the Institute
Over the course of the campaign, 83% of alumni engaged with MIT through the MIT Alumni Association by making annual gifts to the Institute, attending alumni events, or logging on to the Infinite Connection, the online portal for alumni. More than 27,000 alumni volunteered, served on boards, and participated in regional clubs.
The MIT Campaign for a Better World global tour that debuted in October 2016 brought Institute leaders, faculty, and students to New York City, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, and other cities where many alumni and supporters live and work. More than 11,650 alumni and friends attended, live or online.
“I have been grateful for the partnership and support of our alumni and friends from the very start of this campaign,” says President Reif. “Our mission calls on us to make a better nation and a better world. The campaign will help us do exactly that. To me, that will be its legacy.”
This story originally appeared on MIT News on September 30, 2021.