COVID-19: How You Can Help

Support Reed students through the coronavirus crisis with a gift to the Emergency Fund.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | March 19, 2020

Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown millions of lives into disarray, and Reed College is no exception. Students are making rapid adjustments to move out of their dorms, make their way home, and figure out what the next few months will look like. Families are reeling from layoffs and economic uncertainty. Some are caring for relatives who are critically ill.

Many students are looking to the Reed College Emergency Fund to tide them through this crisis. This fund supports students experiencing a wide range of unanticipated needs, including medical expenses, food and supplies, emergency travel, and housing security. And it needs your support.

The fund got its start in 2006 with an anonymous donor who encountered some heavy financial turbulence during her own time at Reed during the 1970s; her parents made many sacrifices and she worked several jobs on the long road to graduation. She wanted to help Reed students facing pressing short-term needs—rent, books, transportation—so they could stay in school. The timing was fortuitous: the Great Recession of 2008 splintered the finances of many Reed families, and the fund was there to help.

Over the years, the Emergency Fund has helped scores of students: the single mother, just months away from graduation, who couldn’t pay her rent. The student whose father needed cancer treatment and had no insurance. The student whose father had a heart attack and couldn't work. In each case, the fund helped the student bridge the gap, stabilize their finances, and continue their education.

“You know, a small amount of money can have a tremendous impact in this kind of situation,” says Peter Stockman ’77, who once relied on a similar fund in grad school when he ran out of money for food and rent. “Five hundred bucks could be the difference between catastrophe and getting through.”

“It’s hard to pay for an education,” says Stephen Foster ’69, who has also supported the fund. “Students’ finances are always on the edge.”

The fund assists students when the college's established financial aid programs (also supported with gifts from alumni and friends of the college) cannot respond to a sudden change in circumstances. The fund may be used for off-campus living expenses, books, supplies, and various Reed-related needs.

As the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ripple across the globe, students are facing unprecedented levels of need. Some 34 students have made requests for help from the fund so far this year, almost all of them in the last week.

“We are committed to supporting students who are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says President Audrey Bilger. “In the face of this global crisis, I am truly grateful that students can turn to the Emergency Fund, and urge you to consider making a gift of any size to it.”

UPDATE: As of May 11, more than 141 alumni and friends made contributions totalling $39,716—and counting!


Tags: Giving Back to Reed, Covid-19