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Trustees, Alumni Create COVID-19 Emergency Fund to Help Vulnerable Students

Majestic Marquee
The marquee of the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. Photo/Derek Palmer

By David Ertischek ’01

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact how and where students learn, Emerson College has created an emergency fund that will help students pay their rent, transport themselves back home, rent equipment such as laptops, and more.

Every member of the Board of Trustees, including President Lee Pelton, quickly made gifts and pledges, and as of Monday morning, March 23, the fund had raised more than $72,000.

“Your gifts — among other things — are helping students reconnect with family members, getting them ready for an online educational experience, making sure they don’t go without groceries and meals, and most of all, showing them that they have a support system at Emerson College,” said Angela Grant, director of financial aid.

While several dozen students who cannot go home due to various reasons remain in one residence hall, the vast majority of students had to vacate campus. All grant decisions are being made by the College’s Student Life and Student Success teams, who are on the frontlines and can best evaluate how to distribute funds to students in urgent need.

The fund is going to help students like Alexis Acosta ’21, who had to travel back home to California.

“The COVID-19 Emergency Fund will assist me in tremendous ways,” said Acosta. “The Emerson Mafia has been an incredible resource of invaluable information. The fund will help reduce additional stress during these wild times. Financially, I am a first-generation low-income student, and every penny counts, and losing two part-time jobs in the same week is devastating to me.” 

Along with travel, the fund will help students access necessary items, including renting equipment in their hometowns to supplement technology provided by Emerson’s Equipment Distribution Center. The rental of this equipment is crucial to completing projects.

In this unprecedented international health crisis, Emerson quickly changed its focus to supporting the emergency fund.

“All of us, inside and outside of the Emerson community, are recalibrating our realities as we discover the scope and impact of the epidemic, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to treat fundraising as business as usual,” said John Malcolm, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “In this moment when everyone is examining their understanding of priorities, we have urgent needs that our most vulnerable students can’t meet, and it makes sense to reach out to the Emerson community to help take care of its own.”

Gifts of any size are welcome because the smallest donation can add up to something big for a student in need.

“It’s times like these that we really get to see how much of a community we are at Emerson,” said Ruthanne Madsen, vice president of Enrollment Management. “We all care deeply for our students and want to make sure that they feel supported and cared for during these unprecedented days.”

Please consider donating to the Emerson College COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

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