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Stronger together

It’s been said that bad times bring out the best in people. Proving the truth in this adage, the SFU community has come together in these uncertain times to help students most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

To date, members of our community have generously donated $336,000 to the SFU Student Urgent Response Fund. The initiative, launched in early April, ensures students with the greatest need can quickly access financial assistance for day-to-day essentials such as rent, food and medications; technology equipment to complete virtual classes; or unexpected travel costs to reunite with family.

“People throughout our community have responded to this crisis with extraordinary gestures of kindness and compassion,” says Joanne Curry, Vice-President, External Relations and Acting Vice-President, Advancement & Alumni Engagement. “We are very grateful for the tremendous and widespread support and response we have received.”

Curry points to the inspiring leadership of the Simon Fraser Student Society and the First Nations Student Association (FNSA) with their respective gifts of $150,000 and $40,000 to support fellow students.

“Our students know firsthand the impact this crisis has had on one another, and have demonstrated remarkable generosity and solidarity to help their classmates in need. It speaks volumes about the values and vision of our future leaders and the difference they will continue to make in our world.”

Matthew Provost, who just completed his term as an FNSA board member, explains, “A big part of our mandate is building community and making sure we’re taking care of each other. It was very important for us to support Indigenous students through this transition with whatever they needed most.”

He credits SFU’s Indigenous Student Centre for facilitating FNSA’s contact with Advancement & Alumni Engagement and Financial Aid and Awards to make the gift possible.

Past students also stepped up to help, with the SFU Alumni Association providing a matching gift of $55,000.

“Current students are our future alumni, and supporting their educational and professional journeys has always been a priority for us,” says Jasmine Cumberland (BBA Hons ’09), President of the SFU Alumni Association.

As of April 27, every donation to the fund was matched, dollar-for-dollar, by the Alumni Association up to $55,000. The amount was chosen, Cumberland explains, to mark the university’s 55th anniversary later in 2020 and to celebrate the resilience of SFU’s alumni community.

Individual contributions from SFU faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends bolstered the Student Urgent Response Fund with an additional $91,000. So far, the fund, combined with institutional and government support, has helped more than 2,000 students with unanticipated financial challenges due to the crisis and that number continues to grow.

To learn about the responses of students, staff and faculty to the COVID pandemic, see SFU COVID-19 Action Now (SFU CAN)