With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clarke University’s motto of “One Clarke, One Community” took on new meaning in uniting Clarkies, even while physically distanced. Over time, it expanded as a charge to strengthen and celebrate connections within our campus community, including caring for the whole student.
This has been exemplified in the outpouring of gifts to Clarke University. Unrestricted gifts allow Clarke to direct philanthropic funds to the areas where it is needed most, including everything from the Margaret Mann Academic Resource Center, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, to student scholarships, new materials in the classroom, and facility improvements.
Another example of philanthropy in action was the donor response to the COVID-19 Crisis Fund and the growth of the Student Emergency Relief Fund. The Student Emergency Relief Fund provides micro grants to students in times of need. In 2020-2021, over $3,000 was awarded to 17 students facing extreme circumstances. “From surveys, we found that 40% of student respondents had lived with food insecurity of some kind, and roughly 10% faced housing insecurity,” said Kate Zanger, Vice President for Student Life.
For many, a grant of $150 could mean the difference between a healthy meal, a safe place to sleep at night, and staying in school. What may seem like a small gift can relieve a tremendous burden for a student and signify that this community is there for them no matter what.
Other campus initiatives are also providing unique forms of support, such as the campus partnership with St. Stephen’s River Bend Food Bank. With supplies from St. Stephen’s, the CUpboard offers four mini food banks in easily accessible spaces on campus, including the library, commuter lounge, athletic offices, and the intercultural office. Thanks to the addition of some small refrigerators, these spaces offer both perishable and non-perishable foods, as well as personal items like shampoo, soap, and deodorant.
“The CUpboard serves all students at Clarke University. Whether they need a quick bite between classes or they’re looking for groceries to prepare multiple meals, our partnership with St. Stephen’s Food Bank offers a steady source of accessible food, including fresh items like fruits and vegetables,” said Tara Velez, Social Work instructor and coordinator for the CUpboard. “Different academic classes, student organizations, and groups of employees have also donated food and personal care products, as well as their time and talents to help this program grow.”
As the University continues to explore new and unique ways to assist students, philanthropic gifts from our alumni and friends will remain a critical source of support. If you’d like to make a gift to support the Clarke Fund, the Student Emergency Relief Fund, CUpboard, or other initiatives, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.