Impact, belonging, resilience and strength, community.
These words are at the core of this year’s Husky Giving Day.
“When I think about the University of Washington Bothell, that is what comes to mind — a community that provides a sense of belonging, that makes an impact by supporting students and helping them reach their full potential,” said Sean Marsh, associate vice chancellor for philanthropy and engagement. “It’s only fitting then, to have these words guide this campaign that celebrates all that UW Bothell has done and, in part with the financial contributions raised, will continue to do in the future.”
During the 24-hour giving campaign on April 6, donors can choose from a range of ways to support a variety of people, programs and projects all across the University. There are also a few key funds that organizers are focusing on this year: the Husky Pantry, the UW Bothell Connected Learning Fund and the UW Bothell Alumni Endowed Scholarship.
It has now been three years since Washington state issued a statewide order to stay at home with hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. As most know, the impacts of this bled into almost every sector of people’s lives — and some of these impacts are still felt today.
One such example is food insecurity, which increased among adults and children during and after the lockdown due to rising levels of unemployment and resulting poverty. A recent food survey by researchers at the UW’s School of Public Health and at Washington State University found that affording food is such a challenge in the state that residents who experience food insecurity say their grocery bills are their biggest source of financial stress, more so than paying for rent or utilities.
In response to this struggle, one focus of Husky Giving Day is the Husky Pantry. “About 50% of students both across the state and on our campus have some level of food insecurity,” said Heather Kenning, manager of the Basic Needs Program in the Health & Wellness Resource Center. “The use of the pantry has doubled from last year and doubled again just from fall to winter quarter this academic year. We are currently averaging about 10 students a day.”
To help meet this demand, donors to UW Bothell on Husky Giving Day can focus their charitable contributions to this initiative, reducing students’ stress about food security and enabling them instead to focus more on their schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
Another Husky Giving Day priority for UW Bothell is the Office of Connected Learning and its Digital Scholars Program. This is a three-quarter, cohort-style program for first-year, pre-major and first-generation students who are interested in majors or careers that require digital skills. The program, which provides on-campus and industry-based experiences, helps students gain needed skills, explore majors and prepare for careers while in a supportive community of peers.
Minh Than, a junior in the School of Business, was in the program’s first cohort and worked with the Washington West African Center, a nonprofit organization that bridges the gap between West Africans living in Washington and the broader community. Than made WWAC’s services and programs more accessible by assessing and then updating the organization’s website. In so doing, she removed some of the same barriers for others that she struggled to overcome as an immigrant herself.
“I know firsthand how hard it can be to assimilate in a new country,” she said. “It’s challenging when you are new to the language, culture and customs. I wanted to do everything I could to help make that transition easier and help others find a sense of belonging.”
As Pa Ousman Joof, WWAC’s executive director, noted, “The work Minh did will impact hundreds if not thousands of people who visit our site. Because of her and the Digital Scholars Program, people in our community can find the help they need.”
The program launched in 2022 and supported 10 students from a variety of majors and backgrounds. With the help of donors on Husky Giving Day, the program hopes to double its capacity so it can include 20 students this upcoming year.
Resilience and strength
The funds raised through Husky Giving Day will also go toward the Alumni Endowed Scholarship. Created in 2009, this scholarship has helped hundreds of students overcome financial barriers and continue their education at UW Bothell.
Thanks to donations made during last year’s Husky Giving Day, then-senior Diego Miguel Cuevas was able to graduate with a degree in finance. “I am tremendously honored and grateful to be one of the recipients of the scholarship,” Cuevas said. “Thank you to every donor who made this possible. Without the financial aid that UW Bothell and donors provided, my goal of attaining my degree would have been in jeopardy.”
Cuevas grew up in Mexico where he and his family struggled financially. “I remember my mother used to have a hard time putting food on the table,” Cuevas said. “Her sacrifices motivated me to keep striving to get my bachelor’s degree and gain financial wisdom.”
Cuevas recognized, however, that the only way he would be able to attend UW Bothell and earn his degree was through financial aid and earning scholarships. “I always worked much harder to make sure I would have a chance to get my degree. I was almost always ahead of schedule when I was in high school, so in my spare time I taught myself how to use Microsoft Excel to help my father with his invoices. I read books such as ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy to gain financial knowledge, and I resold sneakers online to have another source of income,” he said.
“Being chosen as a recipient of the Alumni Endowed Scholarship was a recognition of my resilience, strength, accomplishments, dedication and sacrifices. I will be forever grateful for this recognition,” Cuevas said. “Once again, thank you to all the donors for your generosity and making it possible for students like me to pursue a higher education.”
“We hope that our entire community — alumni, friends of the University, students, faculty and staff — will share their support for UW Bothell during the 24-hour campaign,” said Jessica Newkirk, associate director of alumni engagement. “Amplify the impact by re-sharing UW Bothell alumni content on your social media profiles, adding your personal stories and using the hashtags #HuskyGivingDay, #UWB and #UWBproud.”
As part of Husky Giving Day, the campus is highlighting a number of funds within the University’s five schools and various divisions. The day will also feature giving challenges designed to boost the community’s philanthropic impact.
“The collective experience is at the heart of this day,” Newkirk said. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and invest in UW Bothell’s future as well as celebrate the work we all do the rest of the year, either by contributing financially or by helping spread the word.
“I love seeing our community show up for students, year after year.”