Coogs use common ‘cents’
Even the smallest monetary contributions can add up. The Coog Cents program has been going on for less than two years to encourage students and alumni to give back to the University. In 2012, alumni raised more than $4 million to support students.
“Cougar Cents began in the summer of 2011. The program is kicked off each year at orientation as freshmen donate spare change for a Change for Change Scholarship,” said Liz Castro, young alumni development coordinator for UH Student Philanthropy. “At graduation, they receive a Cougar Cents piggy bank. Essentially, the same thing they did at orientation is done through Cougar Cents but on a bigger scale, as they are helping support all students on campus — not just those in their class.”
Each semester, Coog Cents hosts events on campus called Pig Drops. Students who attend are eligible to win prizes and may also give a donation. On Feb. 12, a Pig Drop was held at the University Center Satellite to raise money for UH’s annual spring festival, Frontier Fiesta. In addition to financially supporting a tradition like Frontier Fiesta, Coog Cents raises money for other purposes such as scholarships, resources for the library and student-run programs.
“The main goal of Cougar Cents is to educate students on the importance of giving back, regardless of the amount. The UH Class of 2016 has donated over $1,000 to UH, which impacts students each day,” Castro said.
According to the UH Student Philanthropy website, more than 700 graduating seniors in the Class of 2012 raised around $7,000 for campus as a part of Coog Cents. If every graduating senior in that class had donated $50, 15 future students would have one free year of education. While UH is a public university and receives funds from Texas, these funds cover only 22 percent of what UH needs to function. Tuition and student fees make up another 42 percent. The remaining 36 percent is covered through donations.
“Coogs should give back because they are proud and want to help future Coogs, too. The University of Houston was founded on the tradition of giving. The Cullen family is just one of the various donors who made this university possible,” Castro said. “It is because of all proud UH supporters that UH is what it is today. Donations help make scholarships, create more areas for students, improve technology and provide a great experience to students.”
Coog Cents accepts donations of any value. Spare change may not seem like a lot of money, but all coins and dollars can make a difference.
“Giving back as students and alumni also shows your confidence in your university and helps invest in your future,” Castro said. “When you graduate and you tell people about the university you graduated from, they think of the way the University is now and how great it is and what it is currently doing and achieving. Gifts directly affect a university’s reputation, which directly affects the value of your degree.”