Georgetown University student groups and programs have provided emergency funding and long-term resources for students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resources became available after the university’s move to a virtual learning environment starting March 16 and the requirement to move out of all university housing by March 22. Students have compiled a spreadsheet of resources offered by the university, student groups and outside organizations for students who need assistance with moving, storage, housing, food and mental health services, among other resources.
The Corp is providing financial support for students through the Community Care Scholarship and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union is providing financial support for students through the Coronavirus Student Relief Fund.
GUASFCU’s Coronavirus Student Relief Fund, which helped students pay for flights home and other costs of transitioning off campus, accepted applications via a Google Form from March 20 until March 31. The fund, which was created in partnership with the Georgetown Scholars Program, raised nearly $21,000 and distributed these funds to over 100 of the more than 170 applications they received, according to CEO of GUASFCU Sam Lazarus (SFS ’21).
“I had a couple of friends that were in GSP that were outgoing seniors that just literally realized as they were coming back from break, ‘We’re gonna have to move off campus quite quickly,’ and didn’t have storage or moving things in place,” Lazarus said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “I popped something to the credit union and saw what our philanthropy account was sitting at. We had a couple of thousand, and I said to the rest of the board, ‘Let’s just throw together a fund to put cash into students’ hands that need it in partnership with GSP.’”
A committee of GUASFCU board members and executives, including Lazarus, and the GSP student president reviewed the applications and sent out wire payments on a case-by-case basis through April 6, according to Lazarus.
The emergency funding provided by student groups like GUASFCU can help pave the way for more long-term philanthropic investments, according to Lazarus.
“It is definitely the start of something broader at GUASFCU in terms of culture,” Lazarus said. “We have such a potential here to make a big impact with our products, whether it be rewards, whether it be credit builders, super low-interest loans. But then we also have these profits that we derive from our lending activities, our investing activities, and they typically have not been reinvested on the scale that I would have liked to see.”
The Corp’s Community Care Scholarship began accepting applications via Google Form on March 14, with the first round of applications due March 21. The Corp set aside its philanthropy budget to create this scholarship, which provides $150 to each recipient for flights, moving, housing and other transition needs, according to Chair of The Corp’s Philanthropy Committee Ella Capen (COL ’21).
“The Corp recognizes that the transition to online learning has caused uncertainty, confusion, and stress among the Georgetown undergraduate community,” Capen wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In understanding the severity and time sensitive nature of these problems, our Board worked quickly to develop the Community Care Scholarship as a resource to help support students in need.”
Recipients of the first round of scholarships were mailed checks March 23 and March 24, according to Capen.
GSP staff and leadership closely informed the process for accepting applicants for the scholarship, and Corp Storage was also able to provide free storage for GSP students during spring and summer semesters, according to Capen.
GSP has continued supporting its students by providing easier access to resources such as Necessity Funding, which is available to GSP students throughout the year for professional, academic or emergency expenses, according to President of the GSP Student Board Caitland Love (COL ’21).
“We have restructured our support so that students have an easier time accessing the resources we provide,” Love wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The Necessity Grant, which all GSPers have access to through their Weekly email, has included a new category of COVID19 related expenses. The oversight committee is meeting more frequently in order to address these requests in a timely fashion during this ever-changing time.”
GSP staff members, including GSP Wellness Director Jo Ellyn Walker, will also be available via Zoom office hours for students who need support or have questions and concerns, according to Love.
Other university resources are available through programs like the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center, both of which offer virtual Zoom office hours for students seeking support, according to Executive Director of the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center Shiva Subbaraman.
The Women’s Center has also added a resources page to its website, which includes links to Health Education Services and Counseling and Psychiatric Services for students who need information or access to mental health resources at Georgetown, according to Subbaraman.
“Our priority is student well being, and to ensure that our students are getting what they need as they settle back into very different home environments and learning spaces,” Subbaraman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We have established routine ZOOM drop in hours each day since the challenges started –as a way to provide continuity and presence for ALL of our students.”
This article has been updated with the most recent amount raised and number of applications received by the GUASFCU Coronavirus Student Relief Fund.