Proving a good education is no laughing matter, CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” and series co-creator and exec producer Chuck Lorre’s family foundation have announced the establishment of the “The Big Bang Theory” Scholarship Endowment at UCLA.
The fund — the first-ever UCLA scholarship created by, and named for, a television series — will support undergraduate students in need of financial aid who are pursuing their higher education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at UCLA. It has raised over $4 million to date, thanks to an initial donation from the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation as well as gifts from the likes of series stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, executive producers Bill Prady and Steven Molaro, and partners such as Warner Bros. Television and CBS.
“We have all been given a gift with ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community — this is our opportunity to give back,” said Lorre. “In that spirit, our ‘Big Bang’ family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists and leaders.”
“The Big Bang Theory” Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need to low-income students who have earned admission to UCLA based on academic merit but need additional support to bridge the gap between typical levels of financial aid and the cost of attendance. The inaugural group of 20 scholars will be announced in fall 2015 on the set of “The Big Bang Theory.” An additional five scholars will be added in each future academic year in perpetuity.
“At UCLA, we pride ourselves on providing opportunities for students from all economic backgrounds,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “UCLA attracts the very best students from around the world, and admission is very competitive. We are grateful for ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Scholarship Endowment, whose contributors agree with us that economic standing should not hinder a deserving student’s shot at a degree from a university of UCLA’s caliber.”
UCLA and “The Big Bang Theory” share connections beyond the scholarship fund: Bialik earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the university, while UCLA professor of physics and astronomy David Saltzberg serves as the show’s science consultant.
Studio Warner Bros. TV recently partnered on a cinematography job training program in memory of Sarah Jones, the “Vampire Diaries” crew member who died while filming another project.