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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published January 23 2013

North Dakota university foundations push for matching grant funds

BISMARCK – Foundations at the state’s 11 public universities are asking lawmakers for matching grants to help generate more contributions from donors and aid in capital and academic investments.

House Bill 1204 would contribute $1 from the state for every $2 generated by the foundations.

There would be a cap of $10 million in matching grants for the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University and $1 million for the other nine campuses.

The bill creates a review committee to determine which projects may benefit from the matching funds.

“There is nothing more powerful in philanthropy than a public-private partnership as defined by a match program,” said Tim O’Keefe, CEO of the UND Foundation.

He told the House Education Committee that UND is wrapping up its own similar campaign, the North Dakota Spirit Campaign, which brought in $297 million, two-thirds of which came from out-of-state alumni.

Laura Block, chief financial officer of the UND Foundation, said many donors are very willing to contribute to the university when the state chips in some funding as well.

“As people become aware of match and can lever their dollars they are much more interested in participating,” she said.

O’Keefe joined leaders from other university foundations to show the benefits of implementing a match-grant program.

He said the lab space for UND’s petroleum engineering program is limited as the program went from five students two years ago, when it was created, to 104 today and is expecting about 250 in the next year.

NDSU Foundation President Jim Miller made it clear the generated donations and possible support from the state are not substitutes to the general funding the universities receive.

“They are an effective use of public funds to increase private support to build strategic links between a university and their constituents,” Miller said.

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