Student Assistance Fund for Emergencies (SAFE)
On the cusp of adulthood, many college students struggle to complete their degrees after unexpected life changes and expenses. The loss of a job, a family crisis, or a natural disaster can derail a student’s academic career.
These financial burdens are exactly what the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s Class of 1967 wanted to relieve. Many alumni’s educations were supported by scholarships, and those extra funds allowed them to weather sudden storms. Understanding that today’s students face more complex problems, the Class of 1967 established the Student Assistance Fund for Emergencies (SAFE) Endowed Program Fund.
Operated by the Division of Student Affairs, SAFE provides one-time assistance to matriculating students who experience short-term financial emergencies. These include medical care, loss of shelter, travel costs for family situations, and food insecurity. This immediate support provides the “safety net” students need to keep them on the path to graduation.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread loss among UNCG students. Campus closures, rapid course adjustments, and mandatory isolation resulted in unemployment and potential homelessness for many students. University Advancement knew that requests to SAFE would become more frequent and in March placed an emergency call to alumni and friends to help augment the fund.
As of July, nearly $300,000 has been raised by 269 donors to ensure students can continue their education. Included in that sum is $49,857 from the UNC System.
“Our students are dedicated to putting in the work to complete their degrees and graduate,” says Dr. Cathy Akens, vice chancellor for student affairs, “but there are times when an unanticipated crisis or hardship occurs. Without available resources, these sudden events might derail students from their goals. SAFE has allowed our team to provide some relief to students who are experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, loss of income, a family crisis, and more. The generous gifts made by our donors will enable us to support more students and help eliminate roadblocks on their path to graduation.”
As UNCG prepares for fall and the return of students, staff, and faculty, the need to support our most vulnerable remains at the forefront. In addition to making significant adjustments to ensure communal health safety, the University continues to assess the potential need for emergency student funding. Donors are a key component to guaranteeing the transformative education UNCG students expect remains accessible to all during this time.
If you would like to make a gift to SAFE, you can do so at go.uncg.edu/helpstudentsnow.
Story by Michelle Danner-Groves, Donor and Board Engagement