Bear2Bear fund aids students with emergency expenses

Sophia DiBattista

sodibattista@ursinus.edu

President Brock Blomberg recently announced the new Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund, an initiative set up to help relieve students of the financial burden that attending college creates. In an email sent out to students on Monday, Nov. 6, Blomberg stated that this endeavor is part of the Annual Fund, which takes in donations from alumni, current students, and anyone willing to give.    Blomberg further explained that the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund was created “to help meet the immediate needs of students experiencing crisis situations or facing temporary financial hardship.” Such situations may include recent deaths in a student’s family, a parent’s job loss, or a severe illness or injury to the student or a relative that will affect academic performance.

Will Abele, a Board of Trustees member and an Ursinus alum of the class of 1961, began this fund with the purpose of allowing financially struggling students to continue their studies and education without the added stress of money. In addition to his original establishment of the fund, he has agreed to match the first $10,000 that comes in.

Suzanne Sparrow, the Director of the Office of Student Financial Assistance, and Missy Bryant, the Assistant Dean of Students, both want students, faculty, and others to be aware of this generous act of charity. They especially wanted to stress that there is not a cut-off number of qualifying students.

In a joint statement, Sparrow and Bryant said, “There will be no limit to how many students may receive the award, but the continued availability of funds depends on the ongoing generosity of our donors and others interested in supporting this effort. To allow us to assist as many eligible students as possible, only one award up to $1,500 can be given to a student per year.”

Senior and President of Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT), Megan Burns, believes the new fund will greatly benefit students and the community. She said, “None of us know what the future holds, but the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund provides security for students faced with sudden turmoil resulting in financial stress. Not only that, but the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund also helps to foster a community in which we are taking care of one another, which I think is really special.”

Since the fund is new, it has not been fully enacted and processed. According to Sparrow and Bryant’s joint statement, “The Bear2Bear application is in the planning stages and will be available on the Office of Student Financial Assistance’s website in the very near future. Once they are received, every application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the total amount awarded to each student will depend upon the information they provide.” The student must be the one to apply for the fund as each applicant must explain the situation they are facing.

Anyone can donate to the fund, even current students. Students are in fact encouraged to participate and will have the opportunity to do so. Rosemary Pall, Executive Director of Annual Fund Programs, highlighted Nov. 28’s “Giving Tuesday,” or #Giving2UCDay, as a great opportunity for students to contribute to the fund.

Pall said, “Students are for the first time being asked to consider a gift on #Giving2UCDay, Ursinus is striving for 1,200 donors to make a gift that day, so that would be a perfect time for students to make a donation in any amount to the fund.”

Burns wants to stress that participation, not the amount students donate, is key. She said, “I would encourage students not to worry about the amount of money they may give, but to take note that participation is key. Donor participation can be a factor in the college getting larger gifts and grants to fund student research, faculty and staff and more. Think about it this way- you could spend $5 treating yourself to a drink at Starbucks, or on #Giving2UCday you could spend your $5 investing in a fellow student’s future. In this way, donating to the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund is directly servicing students in need, while also fostering a more empathetic and philanthropic mindset on campus.”

Pall stressed that giving to the Bear2Bear emergency fund is not time sensitive. She said, “Going forward, donors will be able to donate to this fund as part of the Annual Fund, so in that respect, it is not time-sensitive. Seniors can also choose to make their senior class gift to the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund.”

Elizabeth Burns ’12, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, is getting involved as well. She is planning student outreach with STAT (Students Today Alumni Tomorrow) on #Giving2UCday; the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund is their message’s focus.

The Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund provides a safety net for students in financial crises. If you or someone is experiencing monetary troubles, contact the student financial assistance office for more information. If you would like to donate, there is a form on the Ursinus website at https://www.ursinus.edu/support-uc/annual-fund/bear2bear-student-emergency-fund/