SJSU Receives $28M in Federal Funds To Help Cope With COVID-19 Hardship

San Jose State University has received more than $28.7 million dollars from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help students and the campus deal with COVID-19 related hardships.

Half of the funding, or approximately $14.4 million, will go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Eligible expenses include a student’s cost of attending college, food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and childcare. The funding can not be used to pay tuition or registration fees.

CARES Act SJSU Grant

“This is an unprecedented time and many of our students are dealing with unexpected hardships because of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Day. “We want our students to continue on their educational journey and get their degrees. This emergency federal funding will help them do that.”

Eligible students can apply for an emergency aid grant through SJSU Cares and the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and. The amount of individual grants will be determined by the number and scope of the requests that are received. All grant money will be distributed by the end of the spring semester.

Although the CARES Act requires recipients to meet certain qualifications related to enrollment, citizenship, residency and how they are impacted by COVID-19, SJSU Cares distributes funds from a variety of other sources.  Any student in need of emergency funding is encouraged to contact SJSU Cares.

San Jose State will use the remaining funds to enhance distance learning programs and other critical needs to meet the university’s core mission.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress on March 27, 2020, is a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history.

Deadline for Student Crisis Support Fund Extended Through April 30

 

Updated April 28. 2020

In March 2020, San Jose State’s Annual Giving partnered with SJSU Cares to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support the university’s Student Crisis Support Fund in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic. The Student Crisis Support Fund, administered by SJSU staff as part of the SJSU Cares initiative, provides immediate assistance to SJSU students who are facing unforeseen economic crises. This fund is entirely supported by charitable donations and helps meet students’ time-sensitive needs. Requests are increasing dramatically due to the ramifications of COVID-19.

Since the crowdfunding campaign’s launch on March 25, more than 550 donors have helped SJSU surpass its initial $50,000 goal. As of 48 hours before the April 30 campaign deadline, SJSU announced that corporate partner, Cisco Systems, agreed to match all donations in the final week up to a total of $10,000. This, combined with a $10,000 donation from Joan and Don Beall, San Jose State alumni, has brought SJSU close to reaching the goal of $125,000. Funds will address ongoing, anticipated and unforeseen economic needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has already disrupted the lives of life of SJSU students significantly, creating unexpected housing and food expenses, restricting travel and potentially stranding them away from home, limiting their income from hourly jobs, work-study positions, or internships or jobs that have been cancelled or put on hold, and creating other unforeseen challenges such as medical costs and technology resources they need to attend online classes. Some federal emergency funds exist to help students who are Pell- and FAFSA-eligible, but the funds won’t be available to help many other students, including international and undocumented and Dreamer students.

“By helping meet their immediate needs, the Student Crisis Support Fund can give SJSU students the ability to overcome the immediate difficult setbacks the pandemic poses,” said Ben Falter, SJSU behavioral intervention chair and senior student affairs case manager, who also responds to students requesting assistance from SJSU Cares. “However, recovery from the pandemic may take years, so the need will continue.”

“It’s encouraging to have so many in our Spartan community, especially San Jose State alumni and faculty and staff members, willing to support our students even as they too cope with the pandemic,” said Nancy Stewart, senior director of annual giving.

Spartan Food Pantry Celebrates One Year of Service at SJSU

Food Pantry employees in blue aprons.

Alexandra Gerrick, CAPS counselor and chair of the Student Hunger Committee, Cat Fillmore, CAPS Clinical Case Manager, Tania Moran Hernandez, Marjourie Quintanilla, Aseem Chhabra, Marko Mohlenhoff, Student Affairs Case Manager and Ben Falter, Sr. Student Affairs Case Manager at the Spartan Food Pantry. Photo: David Schmitz.

On March 25, the Spartan Food Pantry recognized its first full year of service at San Jose State. The pantry was established as an expansion of SJSU’s commitment to supporting students who are experiencing food insecurity, and is a partnership between SJSU Cares, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley (SHSV) and individual donations. According to monthly data collected on the SJSU Cares website, there have been more than 18,880 SJSU student visits between March 2019 and January 2020 and approximately 24,000 visits since the pantry opened its doors. The pantry has served 4,900 unique visitors, 48 percent of whom visit it weekly.

The pantry, located in the Diaz Compean Student Union with an exterior entrance across from the Engineering Building rotunda, is set up like a grocery store. Eligible students can “shop” through six zones including fresh produce, chilled items, dry goods and toiletries. Once students complete the Spartan Food Pantry intake and agreement form, eligible students can stop in once every calendar week for groceries.

Though the Spartan Food Pantry is a valuable resource year-round, it provides an especially critical service during the COVID-19 health pandemic. Even with in-person classes suspended, all SJSU Cares, case management, and Spartan Food Pantry operations are still available. As of March 2020, the pantry has had to move from a “shopping” model to a “distribution” model where students can receive pre-packaged items while maintaining updated protocol regarding social distance when picking up food. Since Santa Clara County issued its “shelter-in-place” mandate on March 17, there have been approximately 900 visits to the pantry.

“Every day, and especially during times like this, it’s so fortunate to be in a job where the work I do lets me connects students with resources, in some cases almost immediately, and the pantry is the clearest example of that,” said Marko Mohlenhoff, student affairs case manager of SJSU Cares. “The pantry is the most accessible resource to the greatest number of students. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting many people’s employment and directly increasing the level of need with many students. How fortunate that we can offer this pantry to our students.”

Over the past year, Second Harvest has donated nearly a quarter million pounds of food to the Spartan Food Pantry, according to Ben Falter, SJSU behavioral intervention chair and senior student affairs case manager. Of that, the pantry received more than 70,500 pounds of fresh produce—resources that are often hard to find in community and college food banks. These numbers do not include donations of food, toiletries and hygiene items from SJSU’s Community Garden, as well as SJSU staff, faculty, students and the San Jose community at large, including churches and mosques.

“The first anniversary of the Spartan Food Pantry represents a key milestone in SJSU’s efforts to ensure every student has the resources and support they need to succeed,” said Interim Associate Vice President for Student Services Catherine Voss Plaxton. “Now a recognized fixture on campus, the Pantry offers not only nutritious food to resolve a student’s immediate need for food assistance, but also an entry point to comprehensive services to resolve ongoing basic needs concerns. I am so proud of the work of the SJSU Cares staff and the Economic Crisis Response Team, whose motivation to care for students led us to realize this anniversary.”

“Like many people, I see the offering of food as a symbol of care. Every time I’m at the pantry, I see a line of students getting connected to food—a basic need—and know that we are supporting them getting to graduation,” said Falter. “I’m very proud of the way our team has engaged students to increase the use of fresh produce which is vital to good nutrition when you are experiencing food insecurity ”

Updates are posted regularly on social media at @SJSUFoodPantry on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.