Rochester Institute of Technology has launched a USEED fundraising campaign to support its newest diversity program, “Women of Color, Honor, and Ambition,” also known as W.O.C.H.A, officials at the school stated.
USEED is a crowdfunding platform which has been developed specifically for higher education.
The website allows campus communities to create and support research projects, philanthropic programs, foreign study travels and experience-based initiatives, such as W.O.C.H.A.
The program, founded by nine female RIT staff members, with support from the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, is a leadership program, open to all female students who are in their second- through fifth-years of study at the university, with an emphasis on women of color, officials said.
The program is a one-year leadership initiative which has been developed “to enhance leadership ability, build camaraderie, access mentorship, and open networking opportunities,” according to a press release.
The first group includes eight students in the program.
“W.O.C.H.A aims to create an inspiring vision of the future, by developing a quality education, and lifelong learning, where women will explore, develop and share their skills, experiences and resources,” Sandra Whitmore, senior director of operations for RIT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and one of the founding members of WOW (Women of W.O.C.H.A.) Council, stated.
Whitmore said W.O.C.H.A has been modeled after the school’s successful M.O.C.H.A. (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) program, which RIT launched in 2013, in order to address retention and success rates for young men of color.
“With the help and support of USEED, potential donors can find the stories of W.O.C.H.A. students to support this initiative,” Devon Watters, a founding member of the WOW Council, stated. “By sharing these stories with friends and others, the community can become a part of W.O.C.H.A’s success.”
W.O.C.H.A. will consist of a series of monthly workshops offered by faculty, staff and community professionals, healthy lifestyles, financial literacy, self-esteem and empowerment, and community engagement.
The eight women will also receive custom-tailored suits, and complete a community service project, which will be selected by the group. In addition, the program will also conclude with an end-of-the-year celebration.
“With the USEED campaign, people can contribute directly to the life-changing work happening across our campus through the W.O.C.H.A program,” Stephanie Paredes, WOW Council member, stated. “This initiative will connect the students in meaningful ways with the Rochester community, and some of the amazing community leaders and organizations that comprise it.”
The school said W.O.C.H.A is using the USEED platform in hopes of raising funds for wellness activities such as yoga, healthy eating and cooking programs; leadership development, such as Dale Carnegie Leadership Courses; and the custom-made suits.
Individuals interested in contributing the program may visit https://rit.useed.net/projects/263/home.