For college students adapted to living paycheck to paycheck, there was no rainy-day backup plan when COVID-19 blasted onto the scene in mid-March. With closed restaurants and service industries, internships halted, and schools transitioned online, many of these students have found themselves jobless, flightless, carless, and at times, dinner-less.
While help is on the way through unemployment benefits, these checks can take up to two weeks to arrive. Thanks to the generosity of FLC donors and community members, relief is readily available via the Skyhawk Emergency Fund & Persistence Grants. Since the COVID-19 crisis hit Southwest Colorado, more than $172,000 has been distributed amongst more than 200 students*. The lifeline is available to address emergencies directly related to COVID-19. All students need to do is ask.
Here’s a snapshot of anonymous email requests flooding the inbox of Sandy Jameson, participating coordinator of the SEF.
“Hello, I hope that you find yourself healthy! I have been laid off for the season as a result of coronavirus… I supplement my income with odd informal work, but that is slowing down now too. I have two younger siblings that depend on my parents. Neither of my parents can support me at this time; money is tight in my family even without the virus. I pay for my own rent, groceries, car insurance, phone lease, and gas as well… This grant would be very helpful in this time of uncertainty and I am thankful that it exists for all the students struggling right now. Thank you!”
“As of this month I am completely out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic which means I have no income coming in to pay my rent or for groceries and other basic necessities. Prior to this situation, I worked two jobs and went to school every day and managed to keep a B average in classes... I’m really freaking out.”
“Because of this virus, it has made it difficult to find a job, even at the places that are hiring... I am hoping [for] any bit of money to help me get through these next couple months.”
“Due to COVID-19, I have lost my job. I’m a single mom of two kids with no job and I’m not sure how I’m going to keep food on the table. I’ve applied for unemployment but so has everyone else and that hardly pays the bills. I’ve spoken to my landlord about rent but he says he has to pay the mortgage and is sorry, but he can’t help me. I just don’t know what I’m going to do. Anything helps!”
“I am a freshman at Fort Lewis College and I have no internet access where I live on the reservation. Since classes are going to resume online, I would need internet to continue my classes.”
“All I’m asking for is something to help me eat during this time…”
Colorado’s unemployment rate is expected to double in less than three weeks, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. While the State adjusts its staffing and processes from receiving 2,000 unemployment claims a week to more than 60,000 claims, the SEF serves as a safety net that FLC is proud to hold for students. To donate to the SEF, please visit www.fortlewis.edu/emergencyfund and direct questions to Michael Garvey at email@example.com. In the words of one SEF recipient:
“Thank you for your support in this crazy time in our world.”
*Grant award information updated on May 15, 2020