Fostering Success office begins cap and gown donation program

What happens to caps and gowns after graduation? Usually they end up hanging in the back of the closet, before landing in a garage sale, landfill or donation bin.

Now, UWM has a way to recycle those caps and gowns and save some future graduates a little money. A group of campus offices is involved in the effort.

Starting with May 2024 commencement, graduates and alumni have the opportunity to donate their caps and gowns through a new recycling program.

The caps and gowns will be available for December undergraduates who face challenges in affording the regalia to celebrate their accomplishments.

Costs of the garments vary according to the degree but can be pricey, currently ranging from $57 for associate and bachelor’s degrees to $271 for doctoral degree recipients. (Doctoral graduation gear is the only kind that can be rented, for $116.)

May graduates this year can donate their caps and gowns after the ceremony. Collection boxes will be available at the UWM Panther Arena, where commencement is held.

Alumni and recent graduates can donate at the following locations:

  • On campus at Vogel Hall at 3253 N. Downer Ave.
  • The Hefter Conference Center 3271 N. Lake Drive.
  • The UWM Panther Shop in the Student Union.

The apparel will be distributed to undergraduate students in need for December graduation, starting in late November. The recycling team will start reaching out to students in select programs, according to Tawney Latona, Fostering Success coordinator. Any Pell grant-eligible student who can’t afford the graduation apparel can receive the items at no cost. Students who receive the caps and gowns will be encouraged to return them for use by future graduates.

The project began through a $1,000 grant from Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional organization for women educators.

Campus offices involved in the project include:

  • Fostering Success
  • Center for Student Experience and Talent
  • Alumni Relations
  • Student Parent Success Program
  • Student Involvement
  • Office of Sustainability
  • Academic Advising
  • Inclusive Excellence Center
  • Commencement
  • Roberto Hernandez Center
  • Dean of Students

Additional information is available on the Cap and Gown Recycling webpage.

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