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SEATTLE, April 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The University of Washington (UW) today announced a $3.6 million gift commitment awarded over 12 years to the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D). The gift commitment will fund full scholarship packages for approximately 30 underrepresented undergraduate students based on financial need.
Armon Dadgar, 28, and his partner Joshua Kalla, 27, made the commitment to establish the Armon Dadgar and Joshua Kalla Term Scholarship for Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Students. Dadgar graduated from the UW in 2011 with a degree in computer science and is the co-founder and CTO at San Francisco-based HashiCorp, the leader in multi-cloud infrastructure automation software. Dadgar has been recognized by Forbes Magazine on its “30 Under 30: Young Innovators Transforming Enterprise Tech” list. Kalla is an assistant professor of political science and statistics and data science at Yale University.
“This transformational gift commitment will have an immediate impact on the lives of our students, as well as their families and communities,” said Rickey Hall, UW’s Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity and University Diversity Officer. “We are incredibly grateful that Armon and Joshua recognize the needs of students to have access to a UW education. Their contribution speaks to the significance of OMA&D’s work, as well as greater diversity efforts across our campus communities.”
The scholarship will provide financial assistance to undergraduate students participating in the OMA&D’s Educational Opportunity Program or EOP. The EOP promotes academic success and graduation for underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students. The gift commitment is intended to cover room, board, tuition and related expenses until the student graduates and can be applied to any field of study the student chooses. As part of the scholarship, Dadgar and Kalla hope to serve as mentors and connect students with opportunities outside of the classroom.
"In life there are very few silver bullets but I think education might be one of the very few that exist," Dadgar said. “It’s hard to overstate the value of it. Our educations, especially the research opportunities outside the classroom, have been transformational to both Josh and me. We wanted to target this scholarship towards students underrepresented in higher education and ensure they were given the same immersive opportunities we had."
Nationally, financial need remains a barrier for students to access higher education, especially first-generation students. Children of parents without degrees were less likely to persist through and graduate from college for economic and social reasons, according to a 2018 study published by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.
“The mission statement of a university is to improve the world today and for future generations, and I think that’s such a valuable mission statement,” Kalla said. “Focusing on students who might not otherwise afford higher education and fall through the cracks of other financial aid programs was important to us.”
The recipients’ financial criteria do not qualify for Pell Grants and Husky Promise, but these students — both in-state and out-of-state — still struggle to afford all the costs associated with a university degree.
“The scholarships will really help us fill a growing, unmet need for our EOP students whose family financial contribution sits just above that low-income threshold,” said Hall. “Because of their financial hurdles, these students often must take out loans and spend their time working to make ends meet, rather than being able to take advantage of their full Husky Experience.”
The commitment will fund scholarship packages for three cohorts of approximately 10 students, depending on their financial need and will be awarded annually over the next 12 years. The first cohort will be extended scholarship offers by May 1 for the 2019-2020 academic year. Recipients will be incoming admitted first-year students who affiliate with EOP, either through self-identification or because admissions officials believe the student would benefit from EOP’s services. A second cohort of students will be identified in 2023, and the third will be identified in 2027.
EOP provides academic counselors who steward students through the selection and scheduling of classes, exploration of majors and development of career goals. The EOP team also helps students with financial aid, housing, personal matters and a host of additional support services. This support leads to results. For instance, EOP students who enrolled as freshmen in 2012 have a six-year graduation rate of 78% which sets the UW apart as a four-year, public institution that serves underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students.
The gift commitment comes in the midst of the University’s most ambitious philanthropic campaign in its history, “Be Boundless – For Washington, For the World.” Student scholarships are the backbone of transforming the student experience, a core pillar of our campaign, and more than 700 new scholarships have been established during the campaign thanks to donor support. Those wishing to donate to the Educational Opportunity Program can do so here.
Established in 1968, OMA&D broadens college access and supports the academic success of underrepresented minority, first-generation and economically disadvantaged students, as well as cultivates a campus climate that enriches the educational experience for all. OMA&D college access programs serve over 25,000 students in K-12 school districts and two-year colleges across the state of Washington and its student success programs serve over 6,000 UW undergraduates.
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