Crews put the finishing touches on the new Alfond Athletic Complex at Colby College in Waterville in August. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — Colby College announced Monday that it raised $86 million in 2019-20, increasing the amount donated toward the college’s Dare Northward campaign beyond $563 million. The campaign’s goal is $750 million — the largest in Colby’s history.

Twenty-two thousand donors contributed to the current total, with 11,200 donors giving $86 million in new commitments and providing $72 million in cash and assets, the third-highest year-end total in the college’s history, according to a Colby news release.

“This has been a year of possibility for Colby,” college President David A. Greene said. “The college is stronger than ever thanks to the collective efforts of our alumni, families and friends, whose generosity has made a lasting impact for our students today and for those who will follow for decades and generations to come.”

Greene said Thursday in an email that one of the top priorities for Colby, and one of the most attractive initiatives for the college’s alumni and friends, has been investing in Waterville’s Main Street district.

“Because of the generous support of donors, Colby has been able to commit more than $85 million into business, infrastructure and residential development downtown,” Greene said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March, Colby stopped actively soliciting for annual fund gifts as the college’s community responded to the unprecedented situation, according to the release.

In May, the college’s fundraisers shifted focus to Pay It Northward, a strategic campaign to secure postgraduate opportunities for every member of the Class of 2020 in a challenging job market. Colby’s network of alumni, families and friends provided more than 700 opportunities for the college’s newest graduates, according to the release.

“Despite this dramatic pivot, in 2019-20 the Colby Fund reached $8.7 million, with more than 6,000 donors making gifts of up to $100, reinforcing the impact of the collective,” the release says. “Gifts to the Colby Fund provide essential annual resources to ensure the college has the flexibility to advance its priorities. ”

The significance of the Colby Fund has never been more evident than in 2020, according to Colby officials. Colby invested in extensive COVID-19 testing and other risk mitigation practices during the fall semester, allowing the college to invite all its students back for a safe on-campus experience. Colby Fund gifts supported student travel assistance, COVID-19 testing, technology, resources for new methods of teaching and learning, and more.

“This year’s cumulative support, despite the pandemic, proved the college community’s commitment to students remains at the heart of its shared mission,” said Jane B. Phillips, Colby’s vice president for college advancement.

In 2019-20, Dare Northward gifts, of all kinds, supported Colby initiatives such as an expanded faculty and new academic programs, as well as creative and performing arts, diversity, equity and inclusion.

The generosity of the Colby community resulted in new endowed funds to support the college’s top priorities, including faculty research and expansion of financial aid programs. Those funds also helped the development of new programs and support for civic engagement and leadership, as well as new internship, research and global opportunities for students.

“Colby was awarded more than 50 grants from family foundations and leading organizations including the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Harold Alfond Foundation,” the release says, “advancing the college’s key priorities — from ocean sciences to Colby College Museum of Art programming to athletics and wellness. Capital investments supported the creation of premier multipurpose spaces in the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts and the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center.”

Colby’s capital investments extended to downtown Waterville with the development of the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, as well as the arts collaborative building and the Lockwood Hotel. Colby continued to partner with local and community leaders to promote the growth and development of the city, work on Main Street includes new spaces, attracting investors, deepening civic engagement, fueling the arts ecosystem and stimulating job growth.

“The Dare Northward campaign challenges us to imagine a bolder future for Colby,” Phillips said. “Together our community has proven to be ambitious, committed and generous in ways that have propelled the college during even the most challenging times. Every gift of every size, every single volunteer and advocate has moved Colby in exciting ways that fill me with joy, gratitude and pride. And — of course — we are not done yet.”

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