Redbirds Rising: Fundraising surpasses $150 million goal

Over 51,000 donors helped Illinois State University reach the $150 million Redbirds Rising Campaign goal. (Photo courtesy: WJBC/File)

By Blake Haas

NORMAL – Illinois State University has met its intended Redbirds Rising Campaign goal, thirteen months ahead of schedule.

Alumni and friends have contributed more than $155.4 million to the campaign, helping the University achieve the goal aimed at raising $150 million.

“The goal has been a completely collaborative effort on campus and around the world, with alumni and friends contributing gifts of all sizes to the campaign,” said Laura Freyman, ISU assistant director of Donor Communications and Stewardship. “We started in the silent phase in 2013, and it has just grown steadily since then. We have gained momentum in the last few months, and that has allowed us to surpass our campaign goal.”

Over 51,000 donors contributed to the campaign, including 23,000 first-time donors to the University.

LISTEN: WJBC’s Blake Haas talks with Laura Freyman, assistant director of Donor Communications and Stewardship at Illinois State University:

“We had a huge emphasis on the campus community, we had our Birds Give Back day (which raised $625,495), which is a first time ever ISU only philanthropy day,” added Freyman. “We really have just worked throughout the campaign to try and help other people contribute and to really match their interest with the areas that they can contribute too.”

Freyman added the money will be allocated to a variety of areas with $61.8 million earmarked to directly benefit student scholarships.

“We have over 200 endowed funds, and many of those will support student scholarship,” said Freyman. “We are helping to make school more affordable and accessible for students of all different backgrounds. We also have some new projects with technology and innovations.”

Blake Haas can be reached at


Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…

Everyone counts and you could make the difference

By Mike Matejka How many federal dollars will there be for road repairs?  To feed hungry families?  How many Illinois representatives will there be in Congress?  Are Illinois communities going to get their fair share? There’s only one way to ensure our community gets treated properly – answer the census. The every ten year U.S. census,…

Reactions to the “A Community in Conflict” exhibit

By Mike Matejka Every community has its home-town pride; Bloomington-Normal is proud to claim Steak n’ Shake and MASH TV star McLean Stevenson.  We’ve also had a moment of contention and conflict.  Sometimes these are uplifting stories of human progress. At other times, they cause us to shake our heads and wonder why. The McLean…