Cabell Foundation awards $1M challenge grant to bolster VCU’s new library

December 17, 2015

The Cabell Foundation, known for its strategic and generous support throughout Richmond and Virginia, has awarded a $1 million challenge grant to VCU Libraries. Money raised will assist VCU Libraries in fully outfitting and equipping the new James Branch Cabell Library, as well as provide funding for future needs.

The grant challenges VCU Libraries to raise $1 million in new gifts and pledges by June 30, 2017. When VCU Libraries reaches that goal, the foundation will commit $1 million, bringing the total raised to $2 million for the new library. Half of the funds raised will support the New Building Fund, which will outfit and equip the new library with the kind of furnishings and equipment not provided by state funds, and will help VCU realize the full promise of this extraordinary new space for students. The other half of the funds will create a permanent Library of the Future Fund, an endowment earmarked to continually update technology in the building and to replace worn-out, broken and outdated furniture.

 The new James Branch Cabell Library.

The Cabell Foundation is such a tremendous friend and partner of VCU.

“The Cabell Foundation is such a tremendous friend and partner of VCU. Their visionary support over many years has forever impacted the university, and for this, we are most grateful,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “This challenge grant will provide support to each and every VCU student and faculty and staff member through the investment in the VCU Libraries.”

The challenge is designed to spur additional philanthropy to support the library.

“We need help from the entire VCU community and RVA community to meet this generous challenge grant,” said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. “Academic libraries everywhere are in an exciting period of transformation, and no library better illustrates those changes than Cabell Library. We meet users’ needs 24 hours a day. Use of our building and our collections is up. Digital and print collections are growing. We are an active participant in an international movement to provide textbooks and scholarship in affordable, open-access platforms that save families money and share scholarly knowledge with communities.”  

The new James Branch Cabell Library on the Monroe Park Campus is now open. Of the 93,000 square feet of new space, 90 percent is devoted to student and researcher use, rather than for books or staff offices. VCU’s busy library, on one of the commonwealth’s largest campuses, serves more than 2 million people a year. A private fundraising campaign of $6 million is underway to supplement state funds that paid for the basic construction.

“VCU Libraries is the thread that runs through literally every student experience at VCU. As the old saying goes, nobody graduates from a library but no one graduates without one,” said Carol Hampton, president of the Friends of VCU Libraries. “To meet this fundraising challenge—the largest ever for VCU Libraries—we ask all VCU alumni and faculty to make a gift to VCU Libraries in 2016. And we invite everyone in the metro Richmond community and beyond who loves VCU and appreciates a good library to make a gift to help us meet the match.”

To learn how you can help meet this challenge, through a pledge, gift or stock or planned gift, contact Kelly J. Gotschalk (B.F.A.’90/A; M.A.’97/A), director of development and major gifts, at 804-827-1163 or

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region, VCU Health is comprised of five health sciences schools (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy), VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier. For more, please visit and

About the Cabell Foundation

The Cabell Foundation, founded in 1957 by Robert G. Cabell III and his wife Maude Mogan Cabell, is a private foundation that supports charitable organizations in Virginia, with particular emphasis on agencies in the metro Richmond area. Robert G. Cabell III (1881-1968) was the brother of author James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), the namesake of the library on the Monroe Park Campus. The Cabells believed that the foundation should be responsive to human needs and take on initiatives that would inspire the community to action.

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