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Quinsigamond Community College Raises Over $109K for Students in Need

August, 2020
  • Phi Theta Kappa Advisor Bonnie Coleman packs bags of food that will be given to students in need.
    Phi Theta Kappa Advisor Bonnie Coleman packs bags of food that will be given to students in need.

Quinsigamond Community College has raised $109,070 for its Student Emergency Fund and repurposed $53,000 in grant awards to assist over 700 students in need. In a show of strength and solidarity to support its student body, QCC’s Foundation and the College banded together to respond to the COVID-19 health crisis by setting up a Student Emergency Fund for students in significant need and hardship due to the pandemic.

In March, the Foundation jumped in to help QCC students and allocated $25,000 that created the Student Emergency Fund. Knowing there was a much greater student need to be met, the Foundation began an aggressive fundraising campaign with donations coming from QCC’s faculty, staff, directors and trustees, alumni, foundations, banks, corporations, private donors and grants. To date, the Fund has assisted 526 QCC students to help with rent, food, medical services, childcare, other basic life and educational necessities. Students typically received anywhere from $100 to $250. Additionally, several repurposed grant awards provided 200 students with laptop computers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college surveyed its students and found that of those who applied and received aid, 52% did not qualify for other aid, 47% had lost their jobs, 72% had reduced working hours, and 33% had out-of-pocket medical expenses. Most students said they used the aid to help with rent, mortgage, groceries, utilities, transportation, credit card bills, student loans, books and healthcare, due to the economic impact of the pandemic. The survey also showed that of those who received assistance, 81% were women, 63% were minorities, 43% were immigrants, 66% were parents, and 32% were enrolled in adult learner and workforce programs.

“The Student Emergency Fund solidifies the Foundation’s mission of eliminating barriers that prevent student success,” QCC Foundation President Dr. Linda Maykel said. “The many generous individuals, corporations and local foundations that recognized the needs of our student body and stepped up to assist have been overwhelming and heartwarming. However, the need is great and there is much more that must be done to help our most vulnerable students from the hardships incurred by the virus.”

To date, 76% of the Student Emergency Fund has been used, and while many students noted the difference the financial assistance has made, many others noted the ongoing financial struggles they were incurring.

“When COVID-19 hit us, my technology was not updated enough to be able to continue taking my courses online. Without QCC's help, I would not have been able to purchase a new device to attend my sessions. The cash help I received is destined to buy the materials that I will need for the Fall Semester. I am deeply and truly grateful for this help,” said one student aid recipient.

“I lost two jobs. The only one left was four hours a week. It was terrible,” said another student aid recipient.

While all colleges and universities nationwide received Federal CARES Act funding, many students were exempt from receiving this aid because of citizenship, residency or enrollment status. QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja noted the positive repercussions the Fund has had on students, particularly those who otherwise would be ineligible for aid.

“This aid has been crucial for our students’ success. The statistics speak for themselves. Of those students who received aid, 74% said the aid allowed them to stay in college for the semester; 80% said it reduced the stress caused by financial constraints, and 45% said that without it they would have had to withdraw from college,” he said. “Furthermore, 93% who received aid did not withdraw from college and 90% did not withdraw from any course. This is a testament to the impact the Student Emergency Fund is having on our students.”

As the Fall semester gets underway soon, the Foundation and College will continue with its efforts to help students in need. The Food Pantry and Resource Center will continue to operate as a weekly drive through service. Students in need of assistance should fill out a Food Pantry and Resource Center Intake Form.  

“The full impact of the pandemic on the economy and our community remains to be seen. In spite of all of the unknowns and all of the challenges, I am certain of one thing: we will do what needs to be done and we will make sure our students succeed,” Dr. Pedraja said.

To learn more or make a donation, visit the Student Emergency Fund

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