Champions Council

A new generation is emerging within the exclusive membership group

By Camryn Garner '21

In 2004, the 12th Man Foundation's leadership had a vision to create an exclusive membership program that would offer unprecedented access to Texas A&M Athletics' most dedicated supporters. The idea, sparked by Board of Trustees member Willie Langston '81, helped transform the organization's major gift fundraising efforts.

Today, this program has grown into a thriving community of over 1,000 members (565 accounts) who share a passion for Aggie Athletics and a commitment to excellence. Membership is offered to supporters of Texas A&M Athletics who have committed a gift of $50,000 or more to a current capital project or a philanthropic academic or program endowment.

The generosity of these supporters is critical to the 12th Man Foundation's ability to fund championship athletics at Texas A&M. In recent years, Champions Council has experienced a steady increase within a new generation of donors at the 12th Man Foundation.

Since its launch in April 2022, the Centennial Campaign has opened the door for an emerging group of supporters to make a significant investment in Texas A&M Athletics. These donors were then able to share their network with the 12th Man Foundation Major Gifts team to establish new connections and reach prospective donors.

Of the 142 donors who have joined Champions Council over the past 18 months, more than 37 percent fall within the age range of 20-49 years old. Additionally, recent figures on new Champions Council members who have joined since July 2022 reveal that an impressive 43 percent represent an age range between 30-49 years old. These figures exemplify the desire that a new generation of Texas A&M supporters have to create a lasting impact on the lives of Aggie student-athletes.

Trow Smith

"As Texas A&M has grown from being a small military school into the university it is today, I think we are at a turning point where a younger group of former students will transition into the majority of the donor base at both an athletic and university level."

Troy Smith '12

Christopher Bowman '05 has been a faithful supporter of the 12th Man Foundation for the past 17 years. After receiving a phone call to see if he would consider increasing his impact on Texas A&M Athletics at a Champions Council level, Bowman knew that it was an opportunity he could not pass up.

“Aggies agree that we want Texas A&M to be top notch when it comes to athletics, scholarships and everything in between,” Bowman said. “If everybody wants Texas A&M Athletics to be top tier, it is going to take all of us to pitch in and be a part of it.”

Joining Champions Council in 2022, Bowman has not wasted a moment to make the most of his experience.

“I always love being around Aggies, but I love being around Aggies who are more involved than I am because there is such an opportunity to learn,” he said. “When I decided to join Champions Council, I found myself around some really impactful people. As an Aggie who wants to continue to build and do better things for the university, the opportunity to learn from people who have already made a big impact on Texas A&M is really meaningful.”

A former walk on for the Texas A&M football team in 2008, Troy Smith '12 had been attending Champions Council events for years with his father before deciding to make the commitment himself.

“What I enjoy most about Champions Council is the exclusive access it gives me,” Smith said. “It has provided opportunities for incredible experiences like being up close to Buzz Williams and the men's basketball team or meeting Jimbo Fisher. The overall access and ability to talk with people involved in Aggie athletic programs is such a neat experience for me.”

In recent years, Smith came to realize he was no longer the youngest person in the room at Champions Council events.

“As Texas A&M has grown from being a small military school into the university it is today, I think we are at a turning point where a younger group of former students will transition into the majority of the donor base at both an athletic and university level,” said Smith.

With the Centennial Campaign fundraising complete, this next wave of supporters will undoubtedly help drive the 12th Man Foundation forward during the coming initiatives.

“We have expanded our solicitation methods beyond our traditional fundraising model and are thrilled to be working with this new group of donors,” said Brady Bullard, senior vice president of major giving programs. If we look at the significant growth of Champions Council as we have called on a new generation of donors, we have been blessed that so many see the value in the mission of the 12th Man Foundation and the window it gives them into Texas A&M Athletics.”

The 12th Man Foundation will continue to embrace this emerging population of donors to create a lasting legacy of impact on Aggie Athletics. With their support, the Foundation can thrive in its mission of funding scholarships, programs and facilities in support of championships athletics for years to come.

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