The College of Southern Maryland is responding to the COVID-19 crisis by reaching out to students to offer a variety of assistance.
“A lot has changed in a very short period of time for CSM, and really for the entire world,” College of Southern Maryland President Maureen Murphy said in a news release. “Since moving instruction to a virtual environment on March 16, our new normal of social distancing, online learning, and remote services can leave us feeling disconnected and uncertain. But one thing is certain: We stand united in this fight and everyone at CSM is doing all we can to help our students, and our community.”
After closing campuses to the public on March 17 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, college faculty and staff immediately began an outreach effort to help students impacted by the shift in learning and the economy.
More than 500 students responded to a needs-assessment survey, and the College of Southern Maryland Outreach staff called each student to check in with them, share lists of resources available through the community, and offer help where possible. “We initiated a laptop loaner program to provide students with computers and deadlines for students on tuition payment plans were postponed,” Murphy said. “Our CSM Foundation went to work right away to help students financially by establishing the CSM Hawks Student Emergency Fund to help students with food and incidentals.”
By April 1, the College of Southern Maryland Foundation had provided more than $25,000 in student emergency aid, including funds for 125 students who identified food insecurity as an issue.
“We are humbled by our donors, many of them [who are] alumni and College of Southern Maryland employees, who immediately gave to our CSM Hawks Student Emergency Fund so that we could provide financial assistance to students facing unprecedented hardships,” College of Southern Maryland Vice President of Advocacy and Community Engagement Michelle Goodwin, who is also the executive director of CSM Foundation.
“There are no conditions on the money we gave to our students,” Goodwin said. “It is not a loan. It does not need to be paid back. When we tell our students ‘we are here for you,’ we mean it.”
Goodwin added that College of Southern Maryland fundraising continues online, and behind the scenes.
A total of 87 donors have raised nearly $50,000 online through social media to assist students with food and living incidentals, transportation and education supplies; transportation; and tuition assistance.
College of Southern Maryland Foundation Director Emeriti and alum Linda Cox offered to match donors dollar-for-dollar up $10,000 while community donor Allan Dansie offered to match funds up to $5,000.
“It is my honor to help our students in any way possible,” Cox said in the release, “and I’m asking all of my friends and family to do the same.”
Last week, PATRIOT, a Dunkirk-based full-services facilities and infrastructure solutions provider donated $10,000 to help the college’s most vulnerable students experiencing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“PATRIOT understands the devastating economic impact that this virus has had on businesses, families, the education system and most importantly its students,” the company wrote in the release. “As a proud supporter of our local community, PATRIOT recognizes the importance of empowering students in any way possible to afford them the opportunity to continue their education.” “Also, CSM’s Student Government Association is contributing to our efforts,” said Goodwin, who added the group donated $5,000 to help its fellow Hawks. “We are extremely grateful to all who have given from their heart — even when they too are being impacted during these difficult times.”
Anticipating that hardships would continue because of the pandemic, the College of Southern Maryland Foundation joined the global movement #GivingTuesdayNow held last month.
Every year in December, the College of Southern Maryland participates in the annual campaign to raise money for college’s scholarships, and various campaigns that benefit student learning.
The CSM Foundation received 247 donations totaling more than $137,800 in 2019 to bolster initiatives that provide scholarships, programming and leadership potential for students at the college.
“This is what the foundation does, and it is more important now than ever, we support student needs with emergency funds, including food, technology, and tuition assistance,” CSM Foundation Chair Kim Rosenfield said.
The Foundation’s “HELP A HAWK on May 5” and 100% of the proceeds will benefit the CSM Hawks Student Emergency Fund.