Tacoma Voices: Jason Atherton

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Students like Milgard School of Business Alumnus Jason Atherton will be the main beneficiaries of UW Tacoma's $45-million philanthropic campaign.

Jason Atherton, owner and founder of Pop Up Coffee, is a UW Tacoma Milgard School of Business alumnus (BABA ’12, MBA ’15). Jason was a nontraditional student (like many UW Tacoma students) in that he decided to pursue higher education while working and raising a family. Jason got his idea for Pop Up Coffee while completing his MBA at Milgard.

Pop Up Coffee is very unconventional in comparison to typical coffee stands for several reasons. Pop Up Coffee is very small in scale; it has a single employee on staff and uses just a couple of portable tables. Pop Up Coffee is a pop-up coffee bar that serves black coffee only, meaning no additives whatsoever. Pop Up Coffee also utilizes empty spaces scattered throughout downtown Tacoma in partnership with the non-profit Spaceworks. This business model is low cost, but is also quite profitable. The Milgard School of Business encourages students to explore nontraditional business ideas like these.

Photograph of Jason Atherton standing by his coffee shop.

One major part of Milgard’s vision is to encourage strong community partnerships. Pop Up Coffee is one of many success stories from Milgard alumnus. UW Tacoma encourages such community partnerships across all schools and departments on campus with hopes of making a positive impact on Pierce County and the surrounding Puget Sound Region. 8 out of 10 graduates from UW Tacoma stay and work within Pierce County, contributing to both the local economy and overall community.

To keep cultivating success stories like Jason’s, UW Tacoma recently launched a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $45 million dollars by 2020. More than $23 million has already been raised. The theme of the campaign is, “For a Greater Tacoma, For a Greater World”. The campaign’s three main pillars are student success, economic growth, and campus expansion. Stories like Jason’s reflect the campaign’s theme and its three main pillars.

Students like Jason will be the main beneficiaries of the campaign funds. Over half of the funds will go towards student scholarships and endowments as well as expanding other forms of financial aid like food, housing, and emergency financial needs.

The remainder of the funds will go towards hiring new faculty, expanding community-engaged research, launching new academic and student support programs, and creating new programs and facilities within the 46-acre footprint of the UW Tacoma campus. New programs offered or scheduled to be include biomedical sciences, community planning, electrical engineering, and business analytics. The Master of Sceince in Business Analytics is being offered by the Milgard School starting this Autumn Quarter of 2017.

“Funds raised by this campaign will accelerate UW Tacoma’s efforts to foster a thriving and equitable society in collaboration with our community,” said Chancellor Mark A. Pagano. “Access to higher education is at the core of our urban-serving mission. Through this campaign, our community, which built this university, has the opportunity to transform it for the future.”

Enrollment at UW Tacoma surpassed 5,000 in the 2016-2017 academic year, experiencing an 8% growth increase from the previous year. In total, 73% of all UW Tacoma students receive financial aid.

Students like John credit UW Tacoma for their success. Learn more about the campaign and how to contribute to the future of Tacoma.

Written by: 
Tara Knutsen / February 10, 2017