A fundraising campaign that kicked off Aug. 27 raised almost $250,000 as part of ongoing efforts to bring Afghan thought leaders and their families to safety on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The Afghanistan Visiting Scholars Emergency Support campaign, founded in response to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, will finance the placement of at least three at-risk Afghans into visiting scholar appointments at UCSC.

Due to ongoing safety concerns, the university is not disclosing the identities of the people who may become visiting scholars, but they are predominantly academics, journalists, and activists. UCSC is actively coordinating on several potential visiting scholar placements that will depend upon whether intended recipients can safely leave Afghanistan. At the start of the fundraising campaign, only two intended recipients were confirmed to have left the country, but organizers have since received confirmation for a third person.

Funding from the campaign is primarily intended to help hosting units on campus provide for the J-1 Scholar funding and health insurance visa requirements, set by the U.S. Department of State.

The Afghanistan Visiting Scholars Emergency Support Fund collected more than $138,000 in public donations to support these efforts before the fundraising campaign’s Sept. 3 deadline. As a result, the Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor’s Office provided $100,000 in matching funds, and the UC Santa Cruz Foundation Board of Trustees contributed an additional $10,000 matching gift, bringing the total amount to more than $248,000 raised in just one week.

“It is inspiring to see our community come together to help address these needs,” said Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer. “We’re deeply grateful to all of the donors and to our faculty and staff colleagues and students who are working together to put our plans into action.”

Associate Campus Provost Adrian Brasoveanu is leading logistical efforts for the campus. He said next steps will include helping visiting scholars start the visa application process by finding the right embassies and getting hard copies of important documents. While there’s still a lot of work ahead, the fundraising campaign has helped to address a major obstacle.

“These donations enable us to go a long way in meeting visa funding requirements, and all of our other work for these scholars would not help if those funding requirements are not met,” he said. “So this has been essential.”

Upon approval of visas, at least one visiting scholar would be placed with UC Santa Cruz’s Center for South Asian Studies. Another would be sponsored through the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair in Feminist Studies, in partnership with the Human Rights Investigations Lab at the Research Center for the Americas. And at least one more would be sponsored through the Politics Department.

The university is assessing whether any additional funding will be needed to support dependents of visiting scholars. While the crowdfunding campaign for these efforts has concluded, the public can still make additional donations at a special link through UC Santa Cruz’s online giving platform.

For more information on the origins of the Afghanistan Visiting Scholars Emergency Support Fund, please see our prior coverage