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Donations from Beach community aid students in need

Published May 4, 2020

Carrie P.*, an undergraduate student at Cal State Long Beach, received an emergency grant from the university’s Basic Needs Program for temporary housing. The room she stayed in, however, gave her more than just a safe roof over her head.

“I have peace in my heart, which is something I haven’t had for quite some time now,” Carrie said. “This has been a blessing that I wasn’t counting on and I’m just so overwhelmed with the love and support that I have received to help me succeed in school and in life.”

Jim C.*, a Recreation and Leisure Studies major was unemployed and prospects for a job evaporated after the COVID-19 crisis hit. He found it difficult to focus on school with bills piling up. He didn’t know where to turn until he heard about the Basic Needs Program.

student with suitcase“The emergency grant has truly made my quality of life that much better during these rough and unpredictable times,” Jonathan said. “It has been the single most important reason to why I haven't starved to death or not been able to travel locally.”

Carrie and Jim are among the hundreds of students who been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and have found help through the Basic Needs Program, which includes Beach CalFresh Outreach, Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness and ASI Beach Pantry. They have either lost jobs or housing because of the coronavirus. 

Students such as these will continue to receive the financial help they need after a recent online fundraiser generated more than $260,000 in donations. The CSULB Student Emergency Fund raised $161,357, and donations were matched dollar-for-dollar up to the campaign’s $100,000 goal, thanks to a generous donor.

“I am filled with gratitude toward all who stepped up to support a fund that serves our most-vulnerable students," said Michele Cesca, Vice President of University Relations & Development. “The OneBeach spirit was powering this effort, and our students will benefit in so many ways at this critical time.”

Kenneth Kelly, director of the Basic Needs program, said the decision to earmark much of the money for emergency grants was “because we are overwhelmed right now.” Applications to Basic Needs have doubled in recent weeks; grants can be used for food, rent or medical bills, and donations continue to be needed. To make a contribution, click here.

While emergency grants are normally reserved for unforeseen situations or catastrophic events, Kelly said they have been getting requests for tuition help. Foreign student Stephany da Silva Triska, who was featured in a New York Times article, said she was worried she couldn’t finish school because she couldn’t afford her $600 tuition balance.

“Under the current situation, where there is a catastrophic event, we have loosened up the reigns to help students,” Kelly said.

Anna S.*, an undergraduate student, needed help with tuition costs and didn’t know who to contact. She wrote to President Jane Close Conoley, who put her in touch with Kelly; he gave her with an emergency grant to cover her fall tuition.

“I cannot begin to explain what a difference this will make for my family,” Anna wrote to Conoley. “I took a risk and in my greatest luck, you were gracious and helpful, and the impact is significant.”

Brittney C.* said the financial help she received enabled her to enjoy a meal at the residence hall dining without worrying about her next meal.

“It was unbelievably comforting,” she said. “I got to sit in the grass near one of the residence buildings and enjoy the sunshine and my meal without any concern for the first time since this crisis began.

“To know that people who don’t personally know me, still want to make sure I’m taken care of, brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for all you do to ensure that people like me feel cared for."

* The identities of those receiving assistance are protected, therefore all students are identified by a pseudonym.