Delivering Emergency Aid During the Pandemic

By: Traci Kirtley (she/her), Believe in Students

How We Responded

Within days, we launched efforts to meet this need. In late March 2020, we created a grassroots fundraising effort with our friends at RISE to meet the initial need, as close to 300 people stepped in to provide just over $30,000 in the first critical month of lockdowns. As Congress and the Department of Education led by Betsy DeVos put forward funding with eligibility requirements that left some of the most vulnerable students behind, we worked with our partners at Edquity, CourseHero, and other corporate and non-profit friends to develop funding that ensured that ALL students were supported to meet basic needs.

Key Partnerships

Getting the dollars out the door to students as quickly and equitably as possible was paramount, and we worked with key partners to do this work. Since our inception, we have built on the research and best practices around emergency aid to ensure the best possible approach to getting funds to students. Namely, we look for ways to let all students know the funding is available; to reduce the stigma of seeking support; and to make it as simple and quick as possible for students to get the support they need.

What’s Next

Over the last two years, everyone from the federal government to the people of Twitter have stepped forward to meet peoples’ basic needs in unique and powerful ways. We’ve had the chance to see what happens when resources abound and constraints are lifted. We’re trying our best to share what we’ve learned, and we continue to watch eagerly for lessons from across the country. Rather than constantly requiring people to prove that they really are struggling and deserving of support, we continue to believe that a trust-based approach, where we believe students when they tell us what they need, is the path forward.

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