When businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many University of Arizona students lost their jobs. Some needed to find alternate housing or faced new child care costs. The Fuel the Response crowdfunding campaign began quickly to help students through the Student Emergency Fund and Campus Pantry.
More than 1,100 donors gave. One alumni couple made anonymous donations totaling $1 million. Part of their giving endowed the emergency fund to serve students for decades to come. In all, gifts added up to more than $1.2 million.
Like most students who apply for assistance, Andrea Villaseñor, a senior majoring in electrical and computer engineering, needed help paying her rent. Villaseñor lost substantial work hours from her on-campus job and was struggling to cover her utility bills as well.
“They were really fast. I was super impressed with that,” says Villaseñor, who plans to attend graduate school at UArizona in the fall.
She received a $450 check in time to make her payments. Now she can perform her job online, and she’s living with her parents in the Yuma area.
Colleen Riley ’89 made a gift both to help students through this difficult time and to honor her parents, Ed and Bea McCarthy.
“They taught us the value of sharing and supporting our community,” she says.
Supporters who are able are encouraged to continue giving to both funds, says John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation.
“It’s been amazing. This was the most successful crowdfunding program we’ve ever had,” he says. “But the need is great, and we hope our community will continue to rally around our students.”
Give to the Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Fund and Campus Pantry at giving.arizona.edu/fuel-response.
CARES Act Funding
The university began distributing funds received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to students in mid-May. However, the Richard H. Tyler Student Emergency Fund remains an important tool for helping students who don’t meet eligibility criteria set by the federal government. While all enrolled students are eligible to receive assistance from the funds provided by donors, CARES Act funds can only go to those whose hardship is directly related to the partial closure of campus, among other qualifiers.