Alumnus selected as 'Outstanding Philanthropist'

A portrait of a man seated in a wooden chair and leaning on his left arm.

Michael Belote, ’87, was recognized as an "Outstanding Philanthropist" by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, California Capital Chapter in 2021.

Michael Belote, ’87, was selected by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, California Capital Chapter, as its Outstanding Philanthropist. The selection committee considers individuals with a proven record of exceptional generosity, who have demonstrated both civil and charitable responsibility, and who have encouraged others to do the same.

Belote’s philanthropic work includes generous donations, contributions of time and talent, and inspiration. McGeorge Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz describes Belote as someone who, “bicycled across the United States for an important cause, has donated generously to a wide variety of local causes, taught college students in Los Angeles as guest lecturer by Skype, and emceed major fundraising events with humor and enthusiasm.”

Belote finds time to give back to many worthy causes in the Sacramento region even though he has an extraordinarily demanding career. He has been a lobbyist for the underserved for more than three decades and is president of the Sacramento-based lobbying firm, California Advocates Inc. He has over 30 years of experience in representing clients before the Legislature and state regulators. California Advocates’ clients include the California Judges Association, Apple, Delta Air Lines, and See’s Candies.

Belote’s offer to help support students at McGeorge began with a statement that acquaintances say he makes frequently.

“I’d really like to help; tell me what I can do,” he said.

In 2002, he met former Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker at a local restaurant, where she told Belote about McGeorge’s Public Legal Services Society (PLSS), which ensures that talented students are able to commit to working at unpaid public interest or public service summer internships. The grant provides much-needed assistance with living expenses.

"It struck me that that is such a worthy program and a way for students to get not only practical legal work but also help their communities. So, I chose that as an area I got involved in," Belote said.

Since then, Belote has actively supported students in PLSS by volunteering to emcee the program’s yearly fundraising auction, as well as offering financial donations himself. Belote often encourages others to match his gifts and support the program. Belote’s assistance is felt, not only by the student grant recipients, but also by the clients that they serve. Thanks to the support he provides and helps generate, McGeorge School of Law students are able to provide legal assistance to vulnerable people in underserved communities, through an impressive variety of public sector and nonprofit organizations.

Belote has also funded two generous endowments. The Michael Belote Endowed Capital Center Lecture, part of McGeorge’s Capital Center for Law and Policy Lecture Series, has brought discussions on cutting-edge legal issues to the campus, such as “Journalism in the Era of Fake News” and “Brews and Bureaucracy - Emerging Craft Beer Law.” The Michael Belote Public Interest Endowed Scholarship ensures that students wishing to better themselves and their community can afford a legal education without financial barriers.

Belote’s generosity extends to his time as well. He is both a member of the law school’s Dean’s Cabinet and Capital Center’s Board of Advisors. Belote has hired McGeorge students to ensure that they are gainfully employed and mentored students with an interest in lobbying and practicing in the capital.

“McGeorge is so entrenched in Sacramento that the people who we interact with every day in the law are often McGeorge graduates. The graduates not only are in private law firms but all the public agencies. They’re all throughout the capital and Capitol. McGeorge is the law school for this community,” Belote said.