EVENT: UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake will lead about 50 cyclists on a 25-mile tour of the city of Irvine – fulfilling the Promise for Education he made last fall as part of a University of California systemwide scholarship campaign. He earned the most pledges of any participant, bringing in $21,443.

WHEN/WHERE: 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, starting at the Anteater Recreation Center, parking lot 36 (grid D10 on campus map)

INFORMATION: Media planning to attend should contact Cathy Lawhon at 949-824-1151 or clawhon@uci.edu. Parking is complimentary for media who RSVP in advance.

HIGHLIGHTS: 9 a.m. Registration and group photo with Peter the Anteater

9:30 a.m. Bike ride around Irvine, with photo opportunities available throughout the route

11:30 a.m. Post-ride lunch and reception around Anteater Recreation Center pool

BACKGROUND: An avid cyclist, Drake enlisted the campus cycling team to help organize the bike tour. Riders can choose between two routes, depending on their cycling experience. The campus’s homecoming festivities are also scheduled that day, so there will be a full array of spirited activities and learning opportunities.

Launched last September, the Promise for Education campaign involved University of California faculty, staff, students and alumni who posted online promises – some serious, some whimsical – that they would fulfill if supporters helped them reach stated pledge goals. In six weeks, the UC system racked up more than 1,000 promises and nearly 4,000 contributions totaling $1.3 million.

The campuses tried the crowdsourcing tactic in response to decreased state support for higher education, said Melissa Salazar, UC Irvine’s executive director of engagement & annual programs, who led the local effort.

“In the last five years, state funding for the University of California system has been cut by nearly $900 million,” she said. “While the state once covered 78 percent of the cost of a UC student’s education, it now covers just 39 percent. Last year, for the first time ever, students and their families shouldered a bigger share of the cost of their public education than the state. And with that shift comes growing recognition of what private giving can mean for a student’s future.”

The UC’s Blue + Gold Opportunity Plan pays the full cost of tuition for students whose families make less than $80,000 annually. Proceeds from the Promise for Education campaign will go to middle-class students whose family incomes make them ineligible for full tuition waivers.