For decades, college radio has been served as a lifeline for students. In the cluttered hallways of impossibly small radio stations across the United States, young people have found deep cuts and developed lifelong friendships. Nowhere is this more true that KUGS-FM in Bellingham.
Perched atop Western Washington University’s student union, KUGS has been a second home to thousands of students. At KUGS, people of all ages have taken on the responsibility of keeping the award-winning radio station on the air and free of FCC violations. Behind the board or searching the stacks of albums, we have learned new skills, developed a sense of self, and yes, discovered some truly exceptional new bands. And most of us did it as unpaid volunteers. Because we loved it. And because we wanted to learn more.
KUGS alumni have gone on to do great things. They’re musicians, media professionals, lawyers, doctors, elected officials, and community leaders. And a lot of them credit their time at KUGS for helping make it happen.
But with the cost of college ever on the rise, it’s getting harder and harder for students—particularly those who are first-generation students, from nontraditional backgrounds, or who are working their way through school—to make time to volunteer. This creates an equity gap—when school is too expensive, only kids with privilege are able to access spaces that require volunteering.
We believe that is unacceptable. KUGS should be available to anyone who wants to find a home at the station. This is why we’re helping to create a scholarship fund.
What will the scholarship fund?
The money from this scholarship fund would go toward helping students who want to volunteer at KUGS or even take on a staff role, but might not be able to due to financial constraints. We believe that students should be able to have the experience of being part of something with so much history and so much potential.
What is the goal?
We are seeking at least $25,000 to establish an endowed KUGS scholarship. Endowments are great because they create a permanent, sustainable funding source for scholarships.
Donations will create a principal fund held by the WWU Foundation to be held in perpetuity. Interest income from that fund will go towards scholarship(s) for student volunteers and/or staff based on financial need.
WWU requires at least $25,000 to create an endowment, so ultimately we are hoping to raise at least that amount. However, the larger the fund, the more scholarships it can provide! WWU endowment scholarships typically award scholarships of 4% of the fund each year. Interest earned above that amount is reinvested into the endowment to help it grow, minus a 1.5% gift assessment to help with administration of the fund.
Our team consists of WWU alumni and former KUGS volunteers/staff. We are working with support from Jamie Hoover, the KUGS Program Manager. Our experience with KUGS at WWU has enriched our lives. Casey is an operations manager at an online ticketing service, Hanna is a writer, and Kyler is a lawyer/project manager. Casey, Hanna, and Kyler met as volunteers at KUGS over ten years ago.