When the University of Virginia announced in March that students should return home and complete their spring semester classes online, many faced sudden costs related to travel, meals, technology and other necessities.
University President Jim Ryan, who early in the crisis expressed a commitment to supporting members of the University community struggling with expenses, worked quickly with leadership to designate a central fund for those who wished to provide support: the Student Life and Leadership Fund, a longstanding University resource reserved for students facing unexpected financial need.
Seeing the immediate need, the UVA Parents Fund Committee recently announced a $250,000 grant to the Student Life and Leadership Fund, providing support to students who are facing financial difficulties due to changes in the spring semester brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Parents Fund Committee was already considering how to help. The group, which maintains the Parents Rainy Day Fund to support students who are experiencing unforeseen financial hardship, had begun receiving calls from students in need. On March 18, the committee’s co-chairs, in collaboration with Parents Fund staff, held an emergency conference call. When Parents Fund Director Jeff Boyd informed the leadership team that the University had designated a central relief fund, the group was moved to make a large gift as one of the first contributors. Less than 24 hours later, plans to transfer the money were underway.
“One of the real hallmarks of the Parents Fund Committee is its ability to quickly allocate funding where it is needed most,” the co-chairs said in a statement. “This grant was an opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to being both great and good, and it reflects the essence of the Parents Fund’s mission to enhance the undergraduate student experience. We saw an opportunity to support our students, and we’re proud to have seized it.”
The Parents Fund has helped to realize many opportunities for students over the years. Sustained by annual gifts from parents of current and former students, the group provides support for student clubs and cultural events; academic enhancement programs; career services; health, wellness, and safety initiatives; and University traditions. In 2018-19, the Parents Fund raised more than $1.25 million, which it will allocate during the 2019-20 academic year.
The Parents Fund also maintains three scholarships, awarded annually, as well as the Parents Rainy Day Fund and the newly created Student Enrichment Fund, which supports undergraduate students who lack resources to participate in professional development and academic enrichment experiences.
Patricia M. Lampkin, UVA’s longtime chief student affairs officer, has worked in partnership with the UVA Parents Fund for years and is impressed by the group’s swift ability to support the University community in times of emergency.
“The Parents Fund and the Parents Fund Committee have stepped up on numerous occasions when we have faced difficult times and students have needed help,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for the committee’s generosity and for their support, not only financially, but also in spirit as our community comes together to support one another.”
Having overseen the Parents Fund Committee’s campaign to make this grant, Boyd is quick to credit the Parents Fund’s co-chairs and executive committee for their work in bringing it to fruition.
“They’re the ones who made this happen,” he said. “Year after year, parents, alumni and friends provide our group with generous support, enabling the Parents Fund Committee to make what is an already world-class undergraduate experience just a little bit better. Our team is incredibly grateful to UVA parents for their generosity and is honored to have the opportunity to impact student life while their daughters and sons are on Grounds. I hope this grant serves as a reminder to our students that the Parents Fund cares about them and will continue to invest in people and programs to help ensure that their experience is as good, if not better, than those who ‘have worn the honors of Honor’ before them.”
For information about the UVA Parents Fund, contact Jeff Boyd at email@example.com or 434-924-3010.