Northeastern raises $1.4 billion, shatters Empower campaign goal

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Northeastern University on Thursday night revealed the final total of its historic Empower campaign: $1.4 billion raised, for students, faculty, and research. An event celebrating the conclusion of the fundraising campaign highlighted how Empower shattered its goals—twice—and engaged Northeastern’s global community in shaping the future of teaching, learning, and discovery.

“Empower is about creating a better future for everyone,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “We are remaking higher education and leveraging the human advantage over brilliant machines. We will combine the unlimited power of technology with the infinite energy of human creativity, entrepreneurship, and cultural agility. Our students will be robot-proof; and they will build a better world. Ours is the university that the future needs.”

The initial goal of Empower, launched in May 2013, was to raise $1 billion—$500 million in philanthropic support and $500 million through industry and government partnerships—by 2017. Two years ago, due to the campaign’s success, the university increased the goal by 25 percent, to $1.25 billion.

Empower has supported student entrepreneurship, global co-op and experiential learning, faculty research, endowed professorships and the university’s first endowed deanship, among many other areas. The campaign’s impact has been felt across the university, from the Torch Scholars Program and the Gordon Institute for Engineering Leadership, to the game-changing research at the Marine Science Center and the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security.

The flags of the 110 countries that donations came from

In 2012, Richard D’Amore, BA’76, and Alan McKim, MBA’88—inspired by President Joseph E. Aoun’s vision and the university’s momentum—made the largest philanthropic investment in Northeastern’s history: a combined $60 million gift, through which the business school was renamed. D’Amore and McKim served as co-chairs of the campaign, and this week in a Q&A with News@Northeastern they reflected on the experience and Empower’s impact.

Chart detailing donations by group

Their gift helped set the stage for Empower’s success. More than 100,000 individuals and over 3,800 organizations made gifts to Empower, and donors hailed from a total of 110 countries. Empower supported more than 2,100 total funds for areas such as financial aid, research, athletics, faculty, and student projects. Northeastern hosted events across the country and the world—from Boston, New York, and San Francisco, to London, Hong Kong, and Dubai—to engage with members of the university community and share Northeastern’s bold vision for the future.

Northeastern celebrated Empower’s success at the event with donors Thursday night at Cabot Center. Attendees engaged with interactive exhibits highlighting faculty and student research; watched student dance groups and listened to a cappella performances, and even a new rap by Flocabulary specifically for Empower; and watched, on a massive 180-degree screen, videos that featured Northeastern’s history, its bright future, and the impact of Empower.


Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement, thanked campaign supporters for helping take Northeastern to new heights, noting the exponential impact of each and every one of their gifts. “You simply cannot know where your influence ends,” she said.

D’Amore, chair of the Northeastern University Board of Trustees, underscored the extraordinary level of excitement alumni exhibited at the Empower events he attended around the world. He noted how these events also taught him how much of a global, diverse university Northeastern has become, while still emphasizing its fundamental values and commitment to real-world experience and impact that “is the essential DNA that continues today.”

McKim shared how deeply moved he’s been throughout the campaign by hearing so many stories from alumni, family, and friends about how much Northeastern means to them. “Thank you for participating in what is now a record-breaking effort,” he said.