Alumni Demonstrate Generosity Through High-Tech Philanthropy

Armed with a big idea and a short email list, Zoher Bharmal (MS, Computer Science’98) started a unique effort to fund scholarships for computer science students at USC.

Bharmal, who is an employee at Microsoft’s Irving, Texas facility, wanted to establish an endowment to give back to the university where he and his wife, Farida, earned their degrees. But he could not fully fund the $25,000 required to endow a scholarship.

He turned to Microsoft’s matching gift program, which provides dollar-for-dollar money to charitable organizations or institutions selected by Microsoft employees. Then, he looked to a group of employees within Microsoft who were USC alumni.

Though he had not met any of these colleagues and they were scattered across the country, he sent them an email detailing his hope to fund a computer science scholarship through their collective contributions. Within a week, six USC alumni joined the effort.

“What’s interesting about this group is that most of us don’t know each other, but we are joined by our interest in giving something meaningful back to USC, “said Bharmal. “We may live thousands of miles apart - Seattle, Dallas, Washington DC and Charlotte - but we have a common bond.”

Using Microsoft’s payroll deduction and matching gift contributions, the group is expected to fully fund the scholarship within 18 months.

For information regarding contributions to the USC Alumni/Microsoft Employees Endowed Scholarship Fund, contact Jeff Verver at The College of Engineering and Computing at verver@cec.sc.edu or call (803) 777-3612.

In Their Own Words

“I’ve considered giving to the university, but wanted my efforts to go to something beyond a general fund. When I saw the opportunity to participate in the endowment, I jumped on board. With Microsoft’s match, you feel even better that you can give even more.”

Evan Dodds – Microsoft employee, donor and alum

“USC enabled me to be at Microsoft today, and I am thrilled to give and help undergraduates succeed! I was very grateful for the help and education I received, and felt that in some way I should give back. I think about all the instructors who helped me, and even though it was years ago I can vividly remember all of them. The Microsoft match makes giving that much easier.”

Amy Vargo – Microsoft employer, donor and alum

This articles is from the CEC News website.