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Friends UC Chile: A Key Ally for the University

Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc. (Friends UC) is a philanthropic entity based in New York. Its mission is to support UC Chile in its initiatives and projects. Its Board of Directors met during October and reaffirmed its commitment to help, especially through scholarships.

Friends UC having a meeting in a conference room in New York.

photo_camera Friends UC's mission is to collaborate with Universidad Católica, both through the support it provides to projects conducted within the university and through its own programs. (Photo credit: Marisol Silva)

During the last days of October, the sun was shining brightly over the tall buildings of Manhattan, New York, even though the trees were already forecasting the coming of winter. 

This warmth was also felt during the recent board meeting of Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc. (Friends UC).

The mission of the entity is to collaborate with Universidad Católica, both through the support it provides to projects carried out within the university and through its own programs

The non-profit corporation is composed of 21 directors, both Chilean and American, from various disciplines and geographic areas, who share deep ties to Universidad Católica. 

“We have learned a lot from this joint work,” said President Ignacio Sánchez. "Friends UC has raised significant resources for the university that have been channeled through the American foundation. We have been able to receive contributions from Chileans abroad and from North Americans who have been overly impressed by what the university is doing in Latin America." 

As Patricio Donoso, Provost for Institutional Management and treasurer of the philanthropic organization, added, "Friends UC has been a great driving force for Universidad Católica over the years. Hundreds of students have benefited from its two programs, but it has also allowed us to receive resources from the United States for important initiatives such as Endowment UC, Radio Beethoven and Elige Educar from donors who trust in its transparency and management capacity. It is therefore a key ally for the future of our institution."

From a practical point of view, as its president, lawyer and alumn Sava Thomas explained:

"Friends is important to the university for many reasons, but primarily because as an American foundation it can receive donations from individuals and organizations that will enjoy a tax benefit in this country."

Support for UC Chile Students

Friends UC, President Ignacio Sánchez and a group of young people who won the Cristóbal Conde scholarships are posing for a photography.
The Cristóbal Conde scholarships benefit vulnerable students who are not eligible for the government free tuition benefit and require support to cover the remainder of the program’s tuition. (Photo: Karina Fuenzalida)

Friends UC has two important projects: 

The first is an initiative that has existed since 2013 and is possible thanks to the donation of the director Cristóbal Conde. 

Specifically, the scholarship today is aimed at students in vulnerable conditions, who are not eligible for the government free tuition benefit, and who require support to cover the remainder of the program’s tuition

The second initiative has existed since 2015 and provides intensive English training together with English UC to students from vulnerable sectors of society, especially focused on the American cultural context, and concludes with a study trip to Drexel University in Philadelphia

In fact, in July of this year, 14 young people from different degree programs were able to experience the English language and American culture. 

As stated by President Sánchez: "I think it's a great platform, firstly, to publicize our institution; secondly, to learn how philanthropy and fundraising are done in a very professional manner. And thirdly, to be able to find resources abroad and thus add to the search for donation resources that we are permanently carrying out in Chile."

"I sincerely thank the work of the directors, particularly Sava Thomas, its president, during this long period; Roger Thomas and all the directors, both North American and Chilean, who give life to this foundation."

The President actively participates in the Board meetings, which are held biannually: in the first semester in Santiago and in the second semester in New York. 

In addition, 2022 was the return of face-to-face meetings, as the pandemic forced the organization to meet online in 2020 and 2021. 

Integrating Alumni Living in the United States

The photo shows a face-to-face and zoom conference in New York.
"Chile Post Referendum: Towards Common Ground" is the name of the conference that was given by distinguished speakers Eugenio Tironi, Eduardo Valenzuela, Ana María Stuven and René Cortázar. (Photo credit: Marisol Silva)

In the context of its second board meeting of the year, last October 20 and 21, Friends UC performed several activities. 

One of the most relevant was the colloquium entitled “Chile post referendum: towards common ground,” which featured four outstanding speakers:

  • Eugenio Tironi, sociologist and member of the Advisory Council of the UC Chile School of Government 
  • Eduardo Valenzuela, sociologist and former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences UC Chile
  • Ana María Stuven, historian and full professor of the UC Chile
  • René Cortázar, former Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications 

From Chile and connected via Zoom, the four experts shared their interpretation of the results of the constitutional plebiscite and outlined the scenarios that are opening up for the country. 

This discussion, which was moderated by President Sánchez, was also attended by a group of alumni living in the United States, who connected from locations such as Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Denver.

For Sava Thomas, this is key. 

The lawyer said she has many dreams, "but the main one is to expand our list of donors every day and involve alumni based in the United States so that, together, they can help Universidad Católica in its extraordinary trajectory."  

President Sánchez agrees with this view of the future, stating that it is essential to look for new ways of seeking resources and to attract donations from UC alumni who have settled in the United States, especially considering that philanthropy is a practice deeply rooted in the culture of this country. 

"In Chile we have to build a cultural change that means that people are grateful to and committed to the institutions that have been important in their education. 

Therefore, through Giving Day UC and other initiatives, which have been discussed for years within Friends UC and which we have been able to implement, we are seeking to capture these untapped resources and attract the commitment of our alumni. We have worked on all of this at Friends UC," he said. 

"I think that in the next five to ten years, Friends UC will continue to contribute to the university in this culture of philanthropy, and open the doors to continue developing projects together."

As is traditional, the board meeting concluded with a concert and dinner at the home of Sava Thomas and Roger Thomas, acting secretary of the non-profit organization. 

On the occasion, Omega Ensemble, a group of talented young musicians, performed works by Dvorak, Haydn, Beethoven and Wieniawski on piano, cello and violin. 

The entity will meet again in April 2023, this time in Chile. This will be a very special year, as it marks its 20 years of trajectory with the UC Chile. 

President Ignacio Sánchez closed the event by thanking Friends UC and all the directors, hoping for a great future for the foundation and its relationship with the Universidad Católica. 

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