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Illinois State University taking part in Giving Tuesday Now, May 5, to benefit COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund

ISU overpass in the spring

In early April, Illinois State University established the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund to assist students facing homelessness, job loss, and/or food insecurity as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

To date, 436 donors have contributed more than $42,000 toward the fund. The University has already provided more than $500,000 in emergency funding to more than 200 students requesting aid, however, the need for assistance continues to grow. As funds dwindle, the new COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund is providing additional relief in response to the surge in funding requests from students economically affected by the coronavirus.

University supporters can rise to the challenge by donating to the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund on May 5—Giving Tuesday Now—a global day of giving in response to the pandemic.

In support of Illinois State University students and in anticipation of Giving Tuesday Now, the Illinois State University Foundation Board of Directors has committed $25,000 toward the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund.

Foundation Board Chair Eric Burwell ’90 said the Foundation Board seeks to address disruptions in students’ personal lives and academic journeys with the contribution. “The pandemic has created uncertainty for all of us, and the board wanted to show our students that the Redbird community is here to support them during this difficult time. The additional funds will benefit students who have been economically impacted by the virus and hopefully inspire others to join us in supporting our students on Giving Tuesday Now,” said Burwell.

Kathy Magana is a freshman special education student who received emergency assistance from Illinois State when she and others in her household became unemployed due to COVID-19. “I reached out to Financial Aid and received a scholarship to help cover my spring semester tuition. My family felt so blessed. All of my anxieties and worries about not being able to pay for the remainder of my freshman year are all gone now. I can finish my semester strong, and my family can spend our current resources on groceries and other necessities,” said Magana.

Junior political science major Lauren Harris received emergency support to help with living expenses that will be incurred as a result of COVID-19. “When I explained my situation, I was able to receive help,” she said.  “I’m very grateful for the support.”

The University is scheduled to receive federal monies through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and will distribute the funds to students. As demand exceeds available federal funding earmarked for Illinois State University students, the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund will provide an additional source of aid for students facing economic challenges. A goal of $100,000 has been set for the relief fund to help meet increasing student need.

University Advancement Vice President Pat Vickerman said the outpouring of support from alumni and friends has been encouraging, but that more funds will be required as the extent of students’ needs become apparent over the coming weeks.

“We recognize that many of our students and their families are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to make sure our current Redbird students are able to keep making progress toward their ISU degree and not worry about unforeseen issues created by the virus,” said Vickerman. “The Redbird community will get through this together, and I’m confident the University, and our students, will thrive as We Gladly Learn and Teach.”

Giving Tuesday Now, on May 5, provides a unique opportunity for the Redbird community to fortify the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund. Help us reach a goal of $100,000 for students facing economic hardships due to the pandemic. To make your gift on Giving Tuesday Now to the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund, visit