When it comes to alumni engagement, the San Francisco Bay Area Bruins are doing big things in big numbers. They led all alumni networks with 90 events last year, attracting hundreds of alumni and friends to attend sports, social and professional networking events.  Just recently, they voted to allocate $14,000 towards their Alumni Scholarship, their largest apportionment in recent years. So what’s behind the flurry of activity?

“Alumni engagement is the cornerstone of our mission statement,” says Stephanie Brown, co-president of the Bay Area Bruins. “Thanks to the plethora of our events and our outstanding leadership, professional and personal relationships are built that often transform lives in a variety of meaningful ways.  As new leaders develop and observe these types of dynamics and can then take credit for creating those opportunities....this psychic win-win fosters the desire for even more continuing engagement within our communities and with the university.“

And their model works. Their leadership structure has five vice president positions in each of their five regions and each one has the goal to have (at least) one event in their region per quarter. Their event participation looks like this:

Attendees       Type of Event


Cal or Stanford Football Game (tickets)


Beat 'SC Football viewing party in San Francisco


New Bruin Send-off


SF Giants Baseball, San Jose Earthquakes Soccer, San Francisco Symphony


Holiday party


January Volunteer Recruitment Open House


Regional football/basketball viewing parties


Professional networking happy hours


Dinners, community service, hiking, bowling, wine/beer tasting

Brown says, “Our current goals are to build out more events in underserved regions and develop more diverse events everywhere that are not sports related. We also want to create some annual flagship events that offer significant opportunities for professional development and networking.”

All this event coordination taking place is no small feat for volunteers with full-time jobs. That’s why they are currently developing Regional VP teams so responsibilities can be shared, and there can be smoother transitions when alumni resign their positions. 

The second cornerstone of their mission is dedicated to helping new Bruins get to and through UCLA. Brown emphasizes, “Our leadership has always been laser focused on positively impacting our new Bruin family members both personally and financially via our scholarship endowment.”

“The Bay Area Alumni Scholarship, known as the Marijane Viat Memorial Endowment Fund,” according to Doug Garcia, the Bay Area Bruins Board Secretary “was established in 1986, initially with $25,000 in its inception. A core group of network members made multiyear pledges of $1,000 annually to anchor the endowment in its first five years. It has now grown to $400,000, primarily through major fundraising efforts, as well as generous contributions made by members of the Bay Area Bruins.”

In 2016, two scholarship allocations were made totaling $8,000; $4,000 to an incoming freshman and $4,000 to an incoming transfer student from the Bay Area.  Then on Jan. 7, the Board of Directors approved the allocation of $14,000 in continued support of the founding members’ initiative to fund the education of UCLA bound Bay Area students.

Garcia says, “Our long-range goal is to make multiple awards each year, in an amount sufficient to cover tuition and fees. A short-term goal is to bring back our scholarship banquet in the Bay Area for our student recipients and donors. ” With more and more Bruins getting involved in their various events, momentum is on their side.

President Brown has been active with the Bay Area Bruins since the early 90s. And while she says it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, the reward from her service has been the amazing impact it has had on their region. “For most, attending any of our events feels like you are walking into the ‘Cheers’ bar. The best feedback I have ever received (and it has happened repeatedly) was ‘Thank you for getting me involved!  This experience has changed my life’ and ‘Thanks to things I have done with Bay Area Bruins, I got the job!’” The latter applies both to their skills and successes developed as a volunteer leader, as well as the professional connections they’ve made along the way.

Sky’s the limit to what the Bay Area Bruins can achieve in the years to come. The ingredients to success are already in place: strong leadership, an active base and programs designed to make you want to keep coming back or give more. Brown sums up it up best: “I am proud that Bay Area Bruins’ leadership has always been diverse in talents, points of view and dedicated to working together as a very high functioning team. Our founders built the Bay Area Bruins on a bedrock of self-sufficiency and a strong desire for success with every endeavor undertaken.  That legacy lives on because the Bay Area Bruins brand is so highly regarded by all who have benefited from decades of effort and dedication by all who have served.” 

For more information or to get involved with the Bay Area Bruins, visit bayareabruins.com to see a calendar of events or to follow them in social media.

Click here to learn more about volunteering with Alumni Scholarships. Application Reading Sessions in Northern California are taking place on Sunday, March 19.