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Cornell Club of Puerto Rico rallies for scholarship challenge

Cornell graduation 2023: (L to R) Enrique Vila-Biaggi '94, MEng '95, P '20, '23, '27; Paola Diaz ’23; Eleni Gianulis ’23; and Enrique’s daughter Veronica Vila ’23, MEng ‘24

In 2024, a core group of Cornell Club of Puerto Rico (CCPR) volunteers decided to see if Giving Day could help them grow their pool of donors and gifts for their club's scholarship fund.

Giving Day results from the prior three years had averaged around $350—with totals of $300 in 2023, $750 in 2022, and $200 in 2021. With this benchmark in mind, the club got to work. The core team was comprised of a group of five friends from Puerto Rico, all members of the Cornell Club of Puerto Rico’s Board: Enrique Vila-Biaggi ’94, MEng ’95, Carlos Falcon ’95, Manuel Avila ’95, Carlos Davila ’97, and Roberto Monserrate ’94.

Enrique led the challenge by making a matching gift of $10,000—a big jump from recent Giving Day totals. He hoped that the number would catch potential donors’ attention and inspire them to get on board. The match was structured to double the impact for students from Puerto Rico: once $10,000 in gifts was received, Enrique’s $10,000 match unlocked.

In the days leading up to Giving Day, he and his friends sent emails to the approximately 400 alumni currently living in Puerto Rico, letting them know about Enrique’s match. They followed up with text messages on the afternoon of Giving Day, and then with evening phone calls to friends and acquaintances who had not yet contributed to the scholarship drive.

This peer-to-peer outreach was stunningly successful. The CCPR raised over $42,000 for the scholarship from 33 donors, who made gifts ranging from $50 to $10,000. The CCPR scholarship supports between 8–10 Puerto Rican students with financial need each year, as determined by Cornell’s financial aid office, which allocates the funds.