Raising funds for students in need

COVID-19 Slug Support Campaign has already raised more than $81,000 to help students facing financial and personal hardship

Hundreds of donors have kicked in more than $81,000 to boost the ongoing COVID-19 Slug Support Campaign, which is helping students in dire need because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.  

So far, 246 donors have contributed to this important fundraiser going toward UC Santa Cruz’s Slug Support Program, which helps bridge financial gaps during periods of distress.

 Slug Support is especially timely for students who come from families that are struggling financially, or find themselves needing tech access that will help them continue learning at UC Santa Cruz. 

This crowdfunding campaign officially launched on March 31—and the momentum keeps building, said Emily Denning Todd, UC Santa Cruz’s assistant director of annual and digital giving, who is leading the charge for this campaign. 

Donating to this cause is as easy as clicking on a button—and every dollar counts. One donor kicked in $1,500 in a matching-fund challenge—and is close to reaching this goal.

A wide range of Slugs are helping this campaign. 

“Although the majority of gifts have been from UC Santa Cruz alumni, the campaign has received an outpouring of support from all kinds of Banana Slugs,” Todd said. “Alumni, staff, students, and faculty are all coming together to help those students who need our support to get through this difficult time.”

UC Santa Cruz Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success Gwynn Benner has been facilitating the launch of a new laptop lending program called  Slug Tech as part of this campaign. She said the COVID-19 Slug Support fundraising campaign is helping anxious and overwhelmed students, including those who are living at homes facing severe financial pressures. 

“They are in home environments where they are being called on to provide more support,” she said.

“They may have loved ones who are not working because they have been laid off, along with millions of Americans applying for unemployment,” Benner continued. “They come from families who are struggling to make ends meet. Families are particularly impacted when the parents are service workers for businesses such as hotels, and suddenly they’re out of work.”

Many students do not own a laptop or have access to a computer at home, or are returning to homes without ready access to WiFi.

Those who remain on campus face serious challenges of their own. Those without personal computers can no longer rely on access at UC Santa Cruz computer labs and libraries because both have been shuttered during the COVID-19 crisis. 

UC Santa Cruz Slug Support Director Mariah Lyons spoke about vulnerable students living on and off campus. 

“In general we are seeing a lot of students who have suddenly lost income and are now facing basic need insecurities such as the ability to purchase groceries or pay their rent,” she said. 

Lyons recently spoke with one student who was laid off from a restaurant job, losing a source of money that covered most of the rent.

In the face of these issues, this fundraiser will help students on several fronts:

  • Providing food stability for students through digital gift cards, Instacart purchases, and meal swipes to campus dining halls that remain open. Slug Support also connects students to CalFresh for long-term food needs and supports campus food pantries, which remain open for students in need.
  • Funding students in dire need of emergency housing and providing rent support for students who may have lost wages due to reduced work hours.
  • Connecting Slug Support case managers to students who may be in isolation/quarantine to address their needs.
  • Providing distance learning resources through Slug Tech. Slug Tech is working to ship students new laptops, assist in internet booster needs, and provide additional technology to help students function during this time of remote learning.
  • Supporting students who have returned home or taken a leave of absence by connecting them to their local resources for health insurance, mental health services, and unemployment benefits.

“Our students have worked hard for their achievements, and we're so proud of them,” Todd said. “Together, we can ensure that they have the resources they need to be safe, well, and successful.”