Supporting technology needs and retention partners are some of the first efforts for Illinois State University’s allocation on the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).
The fund supports targeted initiatives in Illinois to enroll and retain underrepresented, first-generation, and high-economic-need students during the pandemic. “Nationally, there is a lot of data that show students who are part of populations that are underrepresented or are facing economic disparity are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Success Dr. Amelia Noël-Elkins.
Of the $1.9 million GEER funds designated to Illinois State by Governor JB Pritzker’s office, the University has allocated more than $552,000 toward targeted efforts. So far, $500,000 has been spent on “loaner” technology equipment including laptops, MiFis, and webcams to assist students in their remote learning. “When we shifted to remote learning last year, it became abundantly clear that not all students possessed the technology to be successful,” said Noël-Elkins, who noted the Office of the Provost worked with the Office of Technology Solutions to quickly understand and respond to the needs of students. Noël-Elkins added that loaner laptops are still available. Students who qualify can contact Technology Solutions.
Another $50,000 has been dedicated to assist in construction and equipment for the media room for the upcoming Multicultural Center. Illinois State has also dedicated $20,000 in grants to support and maintain “identity-based” registered student organizations (RSOs). “These groups are partners in retention of students whose identity is underrepresented at Illinois State,” said Noël-Elkins. So far, only $2,000 of the RSO fund has been allocated. Those groups that qualify can contact the Dean of Students to apply for funding.