UC Berkeley announces results of #GivingTuesdayNow for pandemic aid

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Chancellor Carol Christ announced Tuesday the results of the previous week’s #GivingTuesdayNow, a “global day of giving” to support the people most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christ said in a campuswide email that the money raised will go to various student funds and initiatives that aid vulnerable community members. She also asked students in need to apply for these funds if they have not already.

These efforts are collectively called the COVID-19 Giving Hub, according to José Rodriguez, a member of campus University Development and Alumni Relations. The hub includes the Student Emergency Fund, Basic Needs Fund, support for international students and graduate students, technology assistance and federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for students.

Kathy Kwan, a campus alumna and UC Berkeley Foundation trustee, donated $1 million to the Student Emergency Fund. She also urged other community members to contribute as much as they could, which raised another $1 million to provide financial support for students who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes ‘life happens’ and you have to take action because it really matters. This is one of those moments,” Kwan said in an email.

Kwan said she is worried about the loss of potential first-generation students due to the national financial turmoil.

In particular, she cited the needs of families who could previously afford college but now struggle to make ends meet and who may have already stretched to send their children to college.

“This is a very difficult time, and I would like to thank everyone for stepping up. It’s very heartwarming and encouraging to see 2,000 donors stand with me,” Kwan said. “I’ve received so many encouraging notes, very inspirational. It really speaks to how committed people are to Cal and what it stands for.”

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said some of the funds raised will be handled by the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, which is working with the Basic Needs Center to help students compensate for federal work-study wages lost due to the pandemic, as well as handle their increased expenses for basic needs such as housing, food, technology and costs of moving. Applications for aid are evaluated based on financial need, urgency and the impact of coronavirus-related emergency expenses.

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office has awarded students about $825,000 in total, including $547,000 from campus emergency funds and $278,000 from fundraising, according to Ratliff.

Rodriguez said even beyond Giving Tuesday, the extended campus community has united its support across all giving platforms during this unprecedented time.

“We plan to keep on going,” Rodriguez said in an email. “This is an ongoing need that will grow as the pandemic unfolds, and we want to be able to respond to the needs of students so they can complete their studies at Berkeley.”

Contact Angelina Wang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dc_angelina.