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AU Launches ‘Change Can’t Wait’ $500 Million Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign

Historic endeavor will transform the student experience, fund impactful research, and build stronger communities

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American University is launching the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history to create transformative educational opportunities for students, advance research and teaching with impact, and build stronger communities locally, nationally, and globally. With a $500 million goal, Change Can’t Wait: The Campaign for American University builds on AU’s important work of empowering the university community to take on society’s most complex challenges.

Change Can’t Wait is AU’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign in nearly two decades. It furthers the ongoing work of the Changemakers for a Changing World strategic plan and the university’s new Challenge Accepted narrative to advance scholarship, learning and community.

Change Can’t Wait is deeply rooted in our core values,” said American University President Sylvia M. Burwell. “Changemakers defines who we are and guides our aspirations. Now, we ‘accept the challenge’ to step up and create lasting, positive change where it’s needed most. Change Can’t Wait recognizes just that—the urgency to act and make a difference right now.”

During the quiet phase of the campaign, the dedicated American University community generously contributed $270 million towards the $500 million goal.

This crucial effort has three central pillars: elevate, inspire, and lead, which align to the Changemakers strategy. The comprehensive campaign will help create a more equitable and affordable AU, by boosting scholarships, enhancing experiential learning, and creating an environment that promotes student health and wellbeing. It will invest in faculty and student research opportunities and support state-of-the art collaboration spaces and research centers working to deliver interdisciplinary and impact-driven results. And it will focus on the D.C. region and beyond by supporting initiatives to address local challenges, advancing programs that promote civil discourse, and strengthening resources to help AU plan for the future.

AU Board of Trustee member and University Campaign Committee co-chair Jeff Sine, SIS/BA ’76, shared, “Change Can’t Wait is decades in the making. Philanthropic investment will expand AU’s reach here and abroad. I’m proud to see our community rising to meet this moment.”

Peter Scher, SPA/BA ’83, WCL/JD ’87, Board of Trustee member, and University Campaign Committee co-chair, said, “AU has been approaching problems in unique ways for years. The Change Can’t Wait campaign will shine a light on its strengths and amplify its impact as societal challenges become more complex and interconnected.”

The impact of the campaign is already evident across the university, providing scholarships for first-generation students, creating an endowed eminent chair in neuroscience and human behavior, advancing anti-racist teaching practices, and bringing a world-class art collection to the AU Museum.

“Our world is changing at warp speed, with challenges that intertwine and extend from the local to the global. AU is ready to find solutions,” said Burwell. “Change Can’t Wait reflects our work to prepare the next generation of changemakers.”

It has been a momentous year for American University, as AU successfully navigated and persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, faculty and staff continued to thrive and push forward in research, learning and service, building on the strength of several years of investing across the university in support of the Changemakers strategic plan. Change Can’t Wait expands on that momentum and enhances the university community’s ability to take on even more challenges.

For more information on Change Can’t Wait: The Campaign for American University, visit the campaign website at: