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Emergency fund created to help employees during pandemic

Employees facing financial hardships eligible for grants of up to $1,000

September 28, 2020
Author: Imran Ghori
September 28, 2020

UC Riverside is launching a program to aid employees hardest hit by the coronavirus with grants of up to $1,000 to help cover unexpected expenses.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced details of the UCR COVID-19 Employee Emergency Fund in an email to campus employees on Thursday, Sept. 24.

“Understanding that COVID-19 is inflicting great medical and financial harm on individuals and communities, we have created the UCR Employee Emergency Fund to support our community in responding to financial challenges during this crisis,” he said.

The funds are available to staff members working half full-time equivalent hours or more, including those on temporary layoff status. Employees with a total base salary of $75,000 or less, continuously employed by UCR for six months or longer, and facing temporary financial hardships are eligible.

Funds may be used to meet housing, utility, medical, transportation, child, and adult care expenses. As qualified disaster relief payments, the grants are exempt from federal taxation.

“We tailored the program to serve those we consider most vulnerable because COVID-19 has impacted people across society in disproportionate ways,” said Mariam Lam, vice chancellor of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Many lower-paid employees perform essential functions in housing, dining, grounds, facilities, custodial, and other operational areas, she said. School closures, child care, lost work, and unexpected medical bills could be catastrophic for those already struggling to make ends meet, Lam said.

The program was made possible by a donation from John Hackney, an alumnus who graduated in 1964 and gifted the campus a percentage of his retirement savings from his career at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Hackney, who passed away in 2016, asked that the funds be used for UCR’s most pressing needs at the chancellor’s discretion.

Campus leaders felt the emergency fund was the perfect opportunity to share Hackney’s gift at a time when it is critically needed, said Peter Hayashida, vice chancellor of university advancement.

The fund has an opening balance of $300,000 and is accepting donations here.

“We are inviting more fortunate staff and faculty to contribute to the new fund and help our co-workers through this difficult time,” Hayashida said. “We have seen our community step up to help each other in times of need and have heard from those who seek to help with the current crisis.”

The UCR Campus Climate Council will review applications in the order they are received, awarding funds on a case-by-case basis.

Campus leaders hope to stretch the resources to meet the needs of as many employees as possible. The program will continue as long as a federal disaster declaration remains in place and funds are available.

Interested employees can find more details about the fund here and the application here. Applications received by Oct. 5 will be given priority consideration.