In an attempt to help CUNY students facing financial hardship during the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, pandemic, Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced the launching of an Emergency Relief Fund that will provide students in need with $500 emergency grants, which will be disbursed starting the week of April 20.
In a video, Rodríguez asks CUNY alumni, staff and individuals to donate to the fund to support students who are coping with severe economic fallout, having to deal with food and housing insecurity and lack of access to health care.
Recipients will be chosen by lottery from a group of about 14,000 students who have been identified as meeting financial-need and academic criteria.
The goal is to raise $10 million over the next several months to help students with urgent needs as the pandemic and its economic effects continue to unfold. As the fund grows, CUNY will provide more students with grants.
The James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation and the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation each provided initial gifts of $1 million to establish the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund.
In addition to the $2 million seed money, corporate and philanthropic donors such as Robin Hood and JPMorgan Chase provided $500,000 and $750,000 respectively, with an added total of $1.25 million from various other donors.
The emergency fund is the latest financial-assistance resource CUNY is providing to its most vulnerable students in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the CUNY website.
“I am not working, and I don’t receive financial aid, so it is impossible to pay for my tuition because I need the money for other necessities at this moment,” said one senior at Baruch College.
Over the past few weeks, with support from New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CUNY purchased 30,000 computers and tablets to distribute to students to assist them in their distance learning, issued $400 in checks to food insecure students to spend at local grocery stores and issued $425 emergency grants to 117 foster care students in the CUNY Fostering College Success Initiative.
“Helping CUNY students means helping New York get through these terribly difficult and uncertain times so we can all start looking ahead with optimism,” Matos Rodríguez said in a statement.
The CUNY family, including its vast network of alumni and all New Yorkers can contribute at https://www.cuny.edu/emergencyfund/. Individuals can also donate directly to one or more of CUNY’s 25 campuses.