In 2011, the Red and White Scholarship Fund was created to help students respond to unexpected financial barriers. Redbird donors have contributed generously to this fund for nearly a decade, providing a safety net for students. Because of generous donors, the fund has been there to provide support to students facing individual hardships that threaten their academic journey. After heavily utilizing the fund in 2020, Illinois State is launching an initiative to Rebuild the Red and White to replenish funds and continue supporting emergency student needs.

Click to learn about the onoging effort to Rebuild the Red and White.

The Red and White Scholarship Fund was there to assist students in the Spring of 2020 during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as students and their families faced job loss, health issues, and housing and food insecurity. More than 7,000 students requested assistance from the Office of Financial Aid who used federal funds made available from the CARES Act as well as the Red and White Scholarship Fund to help Redbirds in need.

The Red and White Scholarship Fund awarded $455,660 to students during the Spring 2020 semester. To help provide more aid to students, University Advancement created the COVID-19 Redbirds Response Fund. Redbirds rose to this unprecedented challenge, raising $118,706 from 880 donors.

Illinois State was fortunate to have the Red and White Scholarship Fund to draw on during this time of need. To ensure that the University is prepared to continue to support students facing unexpected financial obstacles, University Advancement is encouraging all Redbird alumni and friends to help Rebuild the Red and White.

Staff in the Office of Financial Aid understand that the need is urgent.

“Under normal circumstances, we would anticipate the need to award more Red and White Scholarships than we currently have money to provide. With COVID-19 creating a domino effect economically, we expect even more requests than usual,” Assistant Director of Financial Aid Shawn Rigsby said.

Past Red and White scholarship recipients like international student Montasir Islam can attest to how the scholarship changes students’ lives. Islam is pursuing a second master’s in technology and faced financial difficulties due to the Coronavirus. Companies were no longer hiring students for summer employment. Islam had hoped to pay for his tuition by working remotely. “I still remember when I received the news of being awarded the scholarship. It absolutely made my day,” said Islam, whose family in Bangledesh was also relieved.

“Private support like the Red and White Scholarship is undoubtedly vital to easing the financial struggles that we students often go through,” said Islam. “In challenging times like these, it makes all the more difference in our lives and impacts our future ambitions.”

The need is urgent and your gift, when combined with others, will have a tremendous impact on Redbirds facing what seems to them now like insurmountable financial barriers. Make a gift today to help rebuild the Red and White at