EastBay Today

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Posted April 10, 2020

Supporting Students Sheltering in Place

Cal State East Bay's Presidential Pioneers Emergency fund offers financial help to students with critical needs

Cal State East Bay's physical food pantry sites have closed, but Pioneers for H.O.P.E. has been receiving more calls for support than ever before.
Garvin Tso

As the world has changed in the past several weeks because of COVID-19, so have the needs of Cal State East Bay students. In response, the university has taken a look at how it can help students navigate the challenges they may now face because of layoffs, remote classes and other emergency needs. 

While the university's physical food pantry sites have temporarily closed, Pioneers for H.O.P.E. Program Coordinator Darice Ingram, said the program is fielding more calls than ever before for support. One student may need help making rent after losing shifts at work, another may inquire about food, while others may need help paying for an internet connection at home so they can continue learning remotely. Money to meet these needs is provided through the Presidential Pioneers Emergency fund. 

The fund was initially created to help students who experienced "unplanned emergencies" that would hinder graduation. It provided them a one-time grant of up to $1,500 for situations such as unexpected medical bills, a stolen laptop, or lost wages due to a layoff. 

"This fund is tremendous," Ingram said. "It means we can get support out to the students who need it the most ASAP." 

Ingram said for students needing food, she will recommend they visit local food pantries, or she can connect them with meal swipes for the university's Dining Commons, which remains open for students still living at the residence halls. But sometimes students don't have a way to make it to campus easily or their county's food pantry, so the H.O.P.E program is considering how they can pivot the emergency fund to support those students during the current crisis.

Many students who were working in the service industries have lost hours, and others, who may have made ends meet working for gig companies such as Uber and Lyft can no longer drive because of immunocompromised family members at home or different responsibilities they didn't have before the pandemic began.