Since The Scholarship Foundation offices closed to the public on March 13, 2020, the Foundation has disbursed $16,000 in microgrants (with more requests daily) to Foundation students for emergency expenses related to food, housing, utilities, transportation, and other basic needs. Sudden and widespread unemployment is dramatically affecting low-income students and their families. While network news quickly covered university closings and profiled students scrambling to get home, the next chapter of that story is students with no refunds of precious dollars they have advanced and no viable options for meeting immediate needs.
In addition to providing microgrants through immediate ACH fund transfer, the Foundation extended the interest-free loan and grant application deadline and provided a temporary amnesty period for borrowers experiencing a loss of income. Additional contingency plans are in development for the coming school year.
With 100 years of history and experience, The Scholarship Foundation has had much practice in adapting to change while remaining laser-focused on mission. During World War II, the Foundation temporarily shuttered its services so the community could focus on national needs and consolidate resources. Today, in the midst of celebrating the Foundation’s centennial anniversary, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for adjustments to meet mission. Consequently, the Foundation will redirect resources budgeted for the Graduating Greatness: Celebrating the Next Century of Scholars event (scheduled for August 5th) to the expenses associated with supporting students through the apex of the pandemic. This cancelation is an acknowledgement of the extreme financial and mental toll that Scholarship Foundation students and families are experiencing at this time and a commitment to expend the Foundation’s dollars and energy in ways that more directly alleviate that burden.
The Scholarship Foundation marks its 100-year history in continued celebration of students who have had to be resilient and have persevered. For a century, the community has coalesced to support such students and to reinforce the value of higher education in economy and society. The need has never been clearer than it is now.