A fund created to help University of Hawaiʻi students seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has now raised $1 million.
Donors have come together to raise funds for students on all 10 UH campuses facing urgent financial situations. Given the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its immediate impact on students and their families, the UH Foundation in partnership with UH launched the fundraising campaign on March 23, 2020. Lead funding was provided by national and local funders including the Stupski Foundation, University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Strada Education Network, ECMC Foundation, the Theodore A. Vierra Fund at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF), and the Community Scholarship Fund at HCF, May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust and Ronald N.S. Ho & Associates, Inc.
“A big mahalo to the companies and individuals who have already stepped forward to begin to address the urgent needs of our University of Hawaiʻi students across the state,” UH President David Lassner said after more than $200,000 was disbursed to more than 500 students in the fund’s first week. “We invite the community to continue helping us help our students with necessities such as food and shelter in these turbulent times, as they also strive to complete their studies.”
Donors share why they made these philanthropic investments
“As we all navigate unprecedented challenges and uncertainty during this time, UH students face some of the toughest financial struggles to continue their studies and make ends meet. By joining the coalition of funders supporting the UH Urgent Student Relief Fund, we hope that students will have their financial needs met so they can focus on pursuing their career goals,” shared Jennifer Nguyen, director of Postsecondary Success at the Stupski Foundation. “In addition, we hope to learn alongside our partners in the UH system to discover the ingredients of a successful urgent aid program—a program that stands to have both immediate impact as well as the potential for long-term structural change.”
The students’ need for these funds has been overwhelming. Many more are applying for this critical assistance via the UH application portal. The goal is to address urgent needs so students can continue and/or finish their education.
“The effects of COVID-19 have increased financial strain for many in our state, including Hawaiʻi’s student population,” said Micah Kāne, CEO and president at HCF. “Our hope is that this contribution to the University of Hawaiʻi Urgent Relief Fund will help many UH students remain in school and persist on the path toward their academic goals.”
University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association President Jill Hasegawa added, “The University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association and our members recognize that students throughout the system statewide are severely impacted and in need of support.” Hasegawa continued, “As these students are our future alumni, we feel it is our duty to support as much as we can through our gift to the UH Urgent Student Relief Fund. Our hope is that this will inspire others in our community to recognize and support the needs of our students too.”
Terry George, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation president and CEO said, “Helping others by sharing what we have is an old and deep tradition in our community. We must support UH students around our state in this moment. They are our future scientists, public sector leaders and educators and will be the ones that move our state forward. We will get through this challenge the way Hawaiʻi always has: by taking care of each other.”
Strada Education Network President and CEO William D. “Bill” Hansen said, “As a national social impact organization dedicated to helping all students build more purposeful pathways to and from postsecondary education and into rewarding careers, supporting students during this time of crisis is key. By helping UH students survive the economic fallout of this pandemic, they will be better positioned to continue their academic journey and complete their education.”
Groundswell of support
Many individuals have also generously supported UH students and more than 350 community members have made gifts.
Tim Dolan, UH vice president of advancement and UH Foundation CEO said, “We are tremendously inspired by the groundswell of support for our students from throughout our community. We know that our donors too are affected by the COVID-19 related economic upheaval and their gifts at this critical time show how deep their aloha for our students runs.”
Dolan added, “On behalf of every student recipient, thank you! We are so grateful to all the donors for their support and our UH partners for working around the clock to serve students when they need help most. We know that there is still an urgent need and we encourage those who are able, to give what they can so that our students get the support they so desperately need right now.”
—By Kelli Trifonovitch