April 29, 2016

Caltech Launches $2 Billion Fundraising Campaign

Today, Caltech will formally launch Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. This ambitious $2 billion fundraising initiative will enable the Institute to spur the most innovative and promising research, prepare students to become leaders in science and society, and help secure Caltech’s place as an engine of discovery for generations to come.

The campaign will focus on generating support for three major priorities:

  • Flexible endowment and discretionary funds to empower the Institute to advance extraordinary science, technology, and education wherever the opportunities may lead (target: $600 million)
  • Fellowships, scholarships, and funds to bolster student life, teaching, and outreach to prepare tomorrow’s problem solvers and difference makers to change the world (target: $600 million)
  • Directed funds for programs and facilities to advance fundamental discovery and technological innovation aimed at increasing the store of human knowledge and addressing the problems that confront humanity (target: $800 million)


“People come to Caltech to change the world,” says Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “The Break Through campaign will help ensure that Caltech’s culture of excellence, fearlessness, and ambition will thrive far into the future, both creating knowledge for the ages and improving lives today.”

Wide reach, small size

Caltech has only 300 faculty members, 2,250 students, and 23,000 living alumni, yet its faculty and alumni include 34 Nobel laureates, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, and 13 National Medal of Technology and Innovation honorees. It has been granted more patents per faculty member than any other university in the country and has been named the world’s number one university by Times Higher Education five years in a row.

Caltech scholars envisioned quarks, discovered quasars, launched the field of molecular biology, and detected gravitational waves. They invented the automated DNA sequencer, paved the way for modern consumer electronics by originating methods for integrated-circuit design, conducted groundbreaking research on lead pollution, and led the development of an earthquake monitoring network spanning much of California.

Investing in our shared future

“In philanthropy, I look for my investment to make a difference,” says David Lee (PhD ’74), chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees and campaign co-chair. “At Caltech, I have seen firsthand how one breakthrough in the lab can change the course of science and technology. With the Break Through campaign, we can magnify our ability to explore, innovate, and deliver on the promise of transformation.”

Today, Caltech’s faculty and students are working on the next big thing.

  • In the realm of human health, they are creating neuroprosthetics that may enable paralyzed people to walk and blind people to see, and developing tiny implantable medical devices and novel approaches for attacking cancer, preventing HIV, and treating many other diseases and conditions.
  • For a greener future, they are pioneering methods to better understand our global environment and address important challenges in renewable energy and sustainability science, from synthesizing climate models to exploring solar and wind energy and biofuels.
  • In pursuing the possibilities of “big data,” they are devising computer algorithms with the potential to yield breakthroughs in areas as diverse as smart grids, quantum information, and personalized medicine.
  • And at the frontiers of physics and astronomy, they are expanding our understanding of the universe by unraveling the mysteries of dark energy and matter and seeking evidence of life on other planets.

During the quiet phase before the public launch, Caltech raised more than $1 billion toward its $2 billion goal. Break Through: The Caltech Campaign is on track to be the most successful fundraising initiative in the Institute’s history.

RELATED STORY: Quiet Phase, Resounding Results

Campaign Launch Celebration Today

The Institute community will celebrate the campaign launch on the Caltech campus in Pasadena today. Festivities begin with a symposium—streamed live online—where faculty from all six academic divisions will briefly describe some of their most interesting current research.

An outdoor festival will follow, featuring music, food, and exhibits that will give participants the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the exciting work Caltech faculty and students have under way—such as neuroprosthetics, the “Scarecrow” rover, a voting simulation, and much more. Celebrations with alumni and friends in San Francisco and New York City will follow in May.