The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of college life: from the loss of student camaraderie and activities at the physical campus to the need to adapt to distance learning to increased financial burdens. RCC Senior Thomas Leonard heard from friends and fellow students that they were struggling to pay for expenses including medical bills, rent, technology needs, and groceries.
“Many students have lost their jobs. And in some cases, their parents have lost jobs as well,” Leonard says. A graduate of North Rockland High School, Leonard serves as the student representative to the Board of Trustees and while he was originally focused on math and science, he now plans to get involved with advocacy and get a degree in political science and public policy. “Students who graduate from RCC go on to serve as the backbone of our wonderful community, but right now, that dream is slipping away for many of my classmates. To help address this, I established an Emergency Fund which offers private, immediate financial relief for RCC students.”
To date, the fund has received over 100 applications for support with amounts ranging from $100 – $1,000 for medical expenses, groceries, technology support, and more. The fund currently has $25,000 and Leonard’s goal is to double that amount in the coming weeks.
“The Emergency Fund was designed to be a one-time, stop-gap measure to provide essential services to a student and stabilize their emergency situation brought on by the pandemic,” says Executive Director of Development Carmela Raiti. “Some of our students lack access to the technology necessary for remote learning such as computers and the Internet; others may need money for groceries and essential living expenses after job losses.”
Rockland Community College also offers other support for students in need. The RCC Foundation can award Gifts of Greatest Need, which are not restricted to any one specific concern. This gives RCC leadership the flexibility to prioritize the evolving needs of students and respond promptly to unforeseen challenges. “Our goal is to assist students by reducing their financial obstacles and enhancing their life and learning experiences at RCC,” Raiti says.
Leonard and the RCC Foundation are committed to supporting its students during this challenging time so they can stay on course with their academic pursuits. To contribute to The Emergency Fund visit http://www.sunyrockland.