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PAWS group wants your text to raise $250,000+

September 22nd, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Safiyyah Ballard

LOGAN—Todd Milovich wants a quarter-million dollars from Pepsi, and he wants your help to get it.

Milovich is educational outreach program coordinator for Utah State University’s PAWS  mentor program—Pursuing Academics With Success. The group is competing for a $250,000 prize from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Challenge, which funds worthy programs based on support from their own communities.

As of this week PAWS ranks 52nd out of 1,134 organizations nationwide that are vying for the prize, and their ranking climbs every day.

Milovich says the PAWS submission was  a group effort, just to be able to compete. Pepsi accepts only 1,000 applicants at a time, and applicants have to register within a split-second online. “You have to wait until after midnight Eastern time to submit  your grant proposal,” he said. “One second after midnight, there were over 4,000 attempted submissions.”

PAWS connects USU students to local high school and elementary school students through a multi-generational mentor program. Once a month, all of the students get together at USU.  Milovich said the high school students are trained as tutors through a Ready For Work course at Bridgerland Applied Technical College.

The Pepsi Challenge award would help support and expand the mentoring program, helping local students—both the high school kids and their USU mentors—improve their learning. Milovich says local donors are ready to pitch in if PAWS wins the Pepsi grant. In addition to the $250,000 Pepsi prize, two donors have agreed to match the scholarship portion of the prize, which is $100,000, he said.

“That’s a lot of money that could support this program and scholarships for students for years,” he said.

Milovich and student mentor Ethan DeVilbiss played music on the Taggart Student Center Patio at USU last week, and will hold another concert there on Sept. 29, which will be televised on Comcast cable to gain community support for the fundraiser.

PAWS supporters can help the group win the grant by getting online to show their support.

“It takes five seconds to send a text,” Milovich said, urging local supporters to get online. “People text all day long. They could help  a lot of kids get scholarships just by sending a text. It’s amazing how much fundraising has evolved.”

To vote for the USU PAWS effort, click here to go to the PAWS Pepsi Challenge website or text “102480” to 73774.


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