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Social Work Receives Walmart Local Communities Grant for CU Linked

By Clarke News  |  March 2, 2022

Clarke University is excited to announce a recent grant from the Walmart Local Community Grant Program to support its new CU Linked program. The $1,500 award will assist in connecting students with needed resources, goods, and support services on campus and throughout Dubuque, Iowa. 

CU Linked is led by Clarke’s Social Work faculty and is open to all Clarke students. Students in need of assistance can attend walk-in hours on the 2nd floor of the Nicholas J. Schrup Library. Faculty will be staffing the CU Linked space for several hours each day, Monday-Friday. The full list of hours and faculty taking part in the initiative is available at

Students also have the option to connect with CU Linked outside of walk-in hours. They can complete a simple form and are then paired with a faculty member who works to connect them with needed resources. This can include anything from small scale grants to cover utility payments and fees, to food and housing assistance. 

According to Tara Velez, Instructor of Social Work and BSW Program Director, who is one of the leaders behind the CU Linked initiative, the program was developed in response to increasingly intense and diverse student needs. 

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of students who are experiencing family issues or financial burden,” said Velez. “A student isn’t necessarily struggling in biology because they don’t understand the concepts, but because they are preoccupied with how they are going to feed their family or put gas in their car.”

Our social work faculty is uniquely prepared to provide students with wraparound services that care for the whole person and can work to address these issues” Velez said. “CU Linked doesn’t just give students access to resources, it also gives them a person on campus they can count on.”

For the 2022-2023 academic year, Velez anticipates that CU Linked will serve between 150-200 people or roughly one in four Clarke students. The program works in alignment with existing campus resources like Health Services, Counseling Services, and the Student Emergency Relief Fund. Additionally, CU Linked is looking to bring community partners to campus to make their services more accessible, such as Hillcrest Family Services and Crescent Community Health Center.  

“Our goal is to ensure every student has access to the support they need to be successful. Inviting organizations to campus not only reduces barriers like transportation and cost but makes students more comfortable in asking for and receiving assistance,” Velez said. “People sometimes think their situation isn’t extreme enough, but a student should never be afraid to ask for help.” 

As the University continues to explore new and unique ways to assist students, philanthropic gifts like that from the Walmart Local Community Grants Program and from our alumni and friends will remain a critical source of support. If you’d like to make a gift to support CU Linked and other initiatives, please contact