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Women's Center supporters pledge to match donations

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Slwan Logman, a member of a previous Making Connections class, shares her personal experiences during an event in the Women’s Center on Tuesday.

Photo by Nap Poshyananda

Long-term donors of the UW Women’s Center’s Making Connections program have initiated a fund-matching challenge to raise $100,000 in support of expanding the program’s endowment and outreach to serve more students.

Making Connections is a dedicated college-readiness program that mentors high school students from as early as their freshman year in high school through the college application process. The program caters to first-generation students and students from low-income families and is now in its 14th year.

For each dollar contributed to the program, long-time supporters Jim Phelps and Mikey Herring will match those gifts to raise a targeted amount of $100,000. Phelps said Making Connections has a powerful impact.

“These students, not realizing their potential, have a dream — a kind of grand scale of what they want — but do not know how to get there,” Phelps said. “Making Connections connects those dotted lines.”

For Herring, a UW alumnus, the fundraising campaign is an opportunity for students to contribute to the initiatives at the Women’s Center and the community.

“It is one way for the UW community to give back and to help make that change,” Herring said. “The contributions will build onto the program’s sustainable funding.”

Making Connections shores up students to pursue a variety of majors in their undergraduate career with encouragement to enroll in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

“We’re looking at a huge part of the labor force that is under-represented in terms of women’s participation in that workforce,” said UW Women’s Center assistant director Senait Habte. “70 percent of jobs in the near future are going to be math, science, and engineering-based so if we are not encouraging these girls to go into these fields then they will be placed at a huge disadvantage.”

On Tuesday, alumni from the Making Connections Class of 2011 and 2012 met with donors Phelps and Herring and exchanged personal accounts of their memorable experiences under the program.

“Making Connections has been the most influential program I did in high school,” sophomore Meron Fikru said.

“These girls are very intelligent and very capable but many of them come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. They need the support system to make it through high school,” said Dr. Sutapa Basu, executive director at the UW Women’s Center.

UW students can get involved with Making Connections by volunteering as tutors, mentors, or facilitators for workshops with high school students. Monetary contributions for the Herring-Phelps Endowment can be made through the University of Washington Foundation website.

Reach reporter Naqiah Azhar at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @naqiazh

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