Emergency COVID-19 relief to Need Based Scholarship Recipients: How giving a little makes a big difference

The St. Louis Community Foundation administers funds which help donors provide scholarships for hundreds of deserving students in the region. In 2019, $1.6 million dollars were awarded to 688 students. With the closing of college programs and dorms across the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak, hundreds of local needs-based scholarship recipients are experiencing unplanned expenses, leaving many of them in crisis.

In response, the Community Foundation created the Scholarship Emergency Grant Fund, offering grants of up to $400 to students who received need-based scholarships from the Foundation.

So how do grants of $100-$400 make such a big difference in the life of a scholarship college student? Here are some of the needs, from the words of the applicants themselves:

  • “I had to take out a loan to rent a truck because I had no time to plan how to get my stuff home.”
  • “I’m moving home, but my family can’t afford to feed another person, so I need assistance.”
  • “I lost my on campus job and I relied on the campus meal plan to eat. I’m worried about being a burden on my family.”

In addition, our students need practical help such as:

  • Bus fare – One student moved out of her dorm and into her grandmother’s house. She requested $100 for bus fare so she can travel to the library to access the internet and to study.
  • Loss of work study – Many students have campus work study jobs. Those facilities are closed and students are not able to work. Students need help with unexpected rent, phone bills, car insurance and personal hygiene items.
  • Laptops – Several students don’t own a laptop. Others mentioned needing help to get high speed internet.
  • Computer desks – One single mom who is a nursing student, now doing all of her courses online, said she would use the funds to buy a computer desk because she doesn’t have furniture.

Much of this emergency relief is being funded by the Fred W. Agney Foundation fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation.  Fred Agney owned barber colleges in the early 1920’s and was a national leader in their professional association.  Mr. and Mrs. Agney’s endowed funds support cosmetology, technical, educational and youth work force development programs. The Agney Foundation is an example of the important role of endowment funds, which provide “rainy day” funds and solutions in times of need.  The fund has been relied on in the past to support St. Louis Graduates, provided start-up grants for St. Louis Youth Jobs, and key workforce development programs in the St. Louis Public Schools.

The St. Louis Community Foundation can help your clients design scholarship funds that meet their unique interests. If you are interested in starting a scholarship emergency grant fund, please contact a member of our Giving Strategies team at givingstrategies@stlgives.org