Since Pat Hobbs took over the Rutgers athletic department in late November of 2015, one of his biggest accomplishments has been in drastically improving the fundraising efforts at Rutgers. The RFund was established soon after his arrival and the latest update, per their website from June 20th, reports that almost $73 million dollars has been raised so far. That does include the $25 million dollar tax credit pushed through by Rutgers alum and state Senator Ray Lesniak. Still, based on past history, it signals extraordinary progress.
This past April, a 24 hour fundraising campaign was a huge success. The campaign involved raising $200,000 dollars from first time donors. Then two generous giving families in Jeff and Amy Towers, as well as Ron and Joanna Garutti each matched another $100,000 each, bringing the total well to $400,000 plus! PR maven Jon Newman and loyal son of Rutgers spearheaded the campaign and shared the results in this statement:
"From what I understand, 245 new donors contributed just over $200,000 and another group of existing donors sent in $25,000 or so. So that plus the Towers- Garutti match adds up to more than $425,000 in less than 30 hours."
And now, Newman is spearheading another campaign, this time to support and honor the naming of the “Marco Battaglia Football Practice Complex”, which is being officially dedicated and opened on August 6th. It was due to a $5 million dollar donation from Jeff and Amy Towers that got this massive project off the ground. The Towers family chose to honor Battaglia, a former All-American, Big East Player of the Year, and 8-year NFL veteran, by naming the practice facility after the Rutgers great. For an update on the progress of the facility, which looks fantastic, click here.
They’ve launched the $81K for #81 campaign, which is part of the Rutgers Big Ten Build Campaign.
I asked Jon how this idea came about and he had this to share with me:
“We wanted to give Marco's friends, alums and fans a way to honor him as part of the dedication, so $81,000 seemed more than appropriate. Folks can give any amount, but it does have suggested levels like $81 and $810.”
“I was tweeting with Jeff Towers at the time and he thought it would be a good idea. After an initial tweet, Rick Knupp reached out and offered RFund support and we were quickly ready to go. The RFund folks created the landing page in less than a day. We want to do all we can to honor Marco at this game-changing event for the football program. ”
The campaign runs through August 6th, the day of the dedication. Former Rutgers football player Joe Donato kicked things off by generously donating $5,000. There is an outreach to other former players as well, but as fans, this is just another opportunity to help contribute to R B1G Build.
For me, this continues to demonstrate forward progress on many levels. The organization and collaborative efforts of multiple groups within Rutgers never moved in such a unified and fast pace, at least in the past few decades. The red tape has been cut. It’s full steam ahead and is another sign that the right leadership is in place for positive things to happen. And on a personal level, watching Marco Battaglia play in a Rutgers uniform was a true pleasure. He was an absolute beast on the field and represented Rutgers in a classy and positive way. He was the lone NFL Scarlet Knight representative at times during his career, another sign of how far the program has come, with nearly two dozen players in the league, year after year.
If you haven’t participated in the R B1G Build as of yet, this is a great opportunity to do so. Imagine, which Newman tweeted, if 1,000 Rutgers fans donated $81 dollars each, the goal would be achieved. Let’s make this happen as a fan base and a community that are unified in seeing Rutgers football successful, now and in the future.
To donate to the cause, click here.
Update: As of Saturday, August 5th, donations are just shy of the goal by $10K. Let's make it happen!