Feature Stories 2021: A community that cares
A community that cares

Members of the UMassD community raised over $35,000 in 60 days to support hundreds of students with emergency needs brought about by COVID-19.

When the COVID-19 public health crisis brought an abrupt end to the traditional academic semester, the UMassD community came forward to help students with financial challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic turned our worlds upside down. Students left for spring break, only to remain at home for the remainder of the semester to complete their courses virtually. For students, the transition back home to online learning was met with unexpected financial hardships. Unplanned travel expenses, storing or shipping their belongings, or finding the necessary equipment to attend virtual classes put an urgent financial strain on students. Some even faced food and housing needs. Lost part-time jobs meant lost tuition money.

What happened next revealed the generosity and compassion of the UMass Dartmouth community when students are in need.

A Student Emergency Fund campaign launched in April, and, over the next 60 days, donors near and far responded with contributions to relieve hundreds of students of their sudden financial needs. Initiated by a $10,000 gift from the Alumni Association, our generous donors raised $35,514. The funds, distributed to students through an application process, were used to purchase technology needed to learn virtually in their homes, including internet access and compatible computers for virtual learning. Donations also helped subsidize tuition when families faced financial insecurities from job losses. During such an uncertain time, students were grateful for this outpouring of support: “This aid allows me to put my financial worries aside and focus on my sick mom.”

Verena Lisniski ’83, MA ’94, senior IT project manager at UMassD, felt called to help students in need. “The pandemic created an entirely new level of need and uncertainty for students. When the request was sent to employees to give to the Student Emergency Fund, I felt a sincere commitment to help our students. My hope was that the fund could help ease some of the anxiety and burdens that were unexpectedly thrust upon them and assist with the completion of their semester.”

"For some students, financial difficulties pose an additional challenge that can have a real effect on their academics. I know these students want to succeed, and I want them to as well, so I support the Student Emergency Fund," said Doug Roscoe, professor of political science and director of general education.