Recognizing that Stan State serves some of the region’s most vulnerable students who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stanislaus Community Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to the University.
The funds are intended to support students experiencing the medical, social and economic impact of the global crisis with financial support.
The grant does more than offer desperately needed financial assistance to those who’ve lost incomes and are struggling, according to Polet Hernandez Perez of the Diversity Center.
“It’s important to acknowledge the need among the underserved community,” Perez said. “Knowing students are going to feel a little more supported truly does make it easier for us to connect with them. We couldn’t offer financial assistance for these students previously, but now we can recommend they apply for the grant money. It helps the relationship between the University and students.”
Previous Stanislaus Community Foundation support for Stan State has been centered on the University’s health careers programs. That existing relationship facilitated the opportunity for Stan State to receive this new funding.
“It was an easy decision to make,” said Martha Flores, program and scholarship specialist with the Stanislaus Community Foundation. “We learned the CARES funding left out vulnerable populations who really need assistance. We support high school and college students with scholarships, and it was important to us to support students during this time of COVID.”
“The Stanislaus Community Foundation has been a valuable partner with Stanislaus State,” Stan State President Ellen Junn said. “It has devoted many resources to our heath careers sector, but this generous gift reaches even further into our student body. We are grateful for the Foundation’s recognition of the crisis faced by some of our students and its initiative to quickly respond to those needs. Many students now will have some security as they proceed through the upheaval created by this pandemic.”
The funds will be dispersed through Stan State’s Campus Cares Student Emergency Fund, run by Care Manager Jen Sturtevant, who leads Basic Needs initiatives at the University, with each award determined by a six-person committee. Students may apply online by completing the Campus Cares Student Crisis Assistance Request form on the Basic Needs website.
“Our most vulnerable population has no other option for aid,” Sturtevant said. “For some of them, if they don’t get emergency funding, they and their children could be out on the street. That’s their reality. It’s a tough position. They’re deciding, ‘Do I eat, pay rent or pay for school?’ Those are our students.”
Our students, Sturtevant said, are the Stan State students whose stories of need she hears every day. That number has only grown as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every segment of the student body.
“Last fall we had about 40 submissions for the Student Emergency Fund. It was nearly 300 this semester,” Sturtevant said. “It’s huge. The need is there. Just like all of us, students are experiencing the pandemic. Their world’s turned upside down.”
Even more so for the most vulnerable populations.
“The University has been pro-active in making sure students are not left out,” Perez said. “We’re grateful this grant will allow Stan State to support students who may not have been covered by other funding.”
Fundraising held in April and May boosted the Campus Cares Student Emergency Fund, and all students were eligible to apply for assistance from that program. Now, more funding is available.
Flores has learned through the Stanislaus Community Foundation’s awarding of scholarships that recognition through financial assistance makes a difference for students.
“It sends the message to students that we notice you, we care, and you can continue to achieve,” Flores said. “So many of them have doubts about their potential in college or if they’re college material. Add the pandemic and it’s easy to get discouraged. Here's an incentive to keep going. It says, ‘You can do it. People believe in you. Your community believes in you. We need you.’”