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Inside the Benevolent Fund’s Mission and History

Our Mission:

To better our community by providing support to UAB employees in need and local nonprofits.

For almost four decades, the UAB Benevolent Fund has made a difference in the lives of UAB employees and members of our surrounding community.

Founded in 1984, the organization’s mission is “to better our community by providing support to UAB employees in need and local nonprofits.” Today, the organization helps Blazers in need through a food pantry and emergency grants to employees, in addition to providing financial support and other resources to local nonprofits.

According to Benevolent Fund Manager Lisa Higginbotham, the fund was started to streamline the number of outside fundraising asks to UAB employees. This approach would allow Blazers to be united in their charitable giving.

“UAB leadership was spending significant staff time and lots of staff resources coordinating fundraising across campus for a wide variety of nonprofits,” she said. “It felt like there needed to be a better way.”

President S. Richardson Hill, Jr. and Virginia D. GauldPresident S. Richardson Hill, Jr., signs the first pledge card for the new UAB Benevolent Fund in 1984. He is pictured with Virginia D. Gauld, who was selected as first president of the UAB Faculty and Staff Benevolent Fund Council, a 32-member group created to oversee UAB’s charitable giving campaign.Dr. S. Richardson Hill—for whom UAB’s Hill Student Center is named—convened a committee that explored the best way to approach the issue and, from that committee, established the Benevolent Fund as the fundraising arm for UAB to support a range of local nonprofits.

“This would be the one time UAB, in its official capacity, asks employees to contribute to our community,” Higginbotham said. “It was designed to provide UAB employee support to nonprofits in the community. It’s about external charitable giving to the community that supports UAB.”

Alongside the creation of the fund’s external arm was the establishment of the Employee Emergency Assistance Program (EEAP), conceived to support UAB employees in times of financial crisis. Together, the external and internal components created the Benevolent Fund 38 years ago.

The organization added a partnership with Habitat for Humanity in 2014, and in 2017 Blazer Kitchen—an on-campus food pantry designed to address food insecurity amongst employees, students and patients—was established. Through both Habitat and Blazer Kitchen, Benevolent Fund donors can see the impact of their dollars in the community and can volunteer for hands-on experience in addition to contributing financially.

The Benevolent Fund is an important part of UAB’s Community Engagement Pillar and a leader in forging community partnerships. Since its establishment, the Benevolent Fund has awarded $41.3 million to local nonprofits and $4.7 million in emergency funds to UAB employees. In the last eight years, it has provided $350,000 to build seven homes through Habitat for Humanity.