Support of COVID-19 Emergency Funds Critical to Sustaining Scripps into 2021

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson reflects on the power of donor support to help Scripps thrive as we confront the impact of COVID-19. Make a gift today.

By Emily Glory Peters

Over the last few months, our world has fought to strike a balance between the need to protect public health and the longing to sustain familiar lifestyles. As the pandemic has evolved, the College has likewise sought balance in our response to it—both in addressing its immediate effect on our community and in preparation for its long-term impact.

Scripps’ Immediate Response to COVID-19

As our campus emptied this spring, responding to the most pressing needs of our students took priority, says Scripps Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson. Scripps spent approximately $3 million to aid in their transition off-campus, including refunding prorated room and board and covering the costs of moving and emergency travel. Once students were safely home, Scripps’ second response phase addressed distance learning needs, with the College investing in new technology and equipment, so that all students could continue their studies and access College support services online.

“The pandemic has underscored the different resource levels that our students and their families have. Some may not have adequate tech or Wi-Fi, while others may have space or privacy issues. The College has strived to cast a wide net in supporting them,” says Johnson.

Behind the scenes, further changes wrought by COVID-19 were escalating. Campus events and conferences, which bring in vital revenue while students are on break, were canceled, while the economic downtown triggered a decline in the value of Scripps’ endowment. By May, the total losses to the College hovered around $10 million.

Donor Gifts to Emergency Funds Will Be Essential for Long-Term Support

To offset these costs, Scripps made an immediate, College-wide 10 percent budget cut, reduced salaries for Scripps’ president and senior staff, and placed a moratorium on non-essential expenditures and hiring. Two emergency funds, the Student Emergency Fund and the newly created COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, provided urgent relief for our students and garnered support from our community. Both funds will be prioritized in Scripps’ Day of Giving on May 27, 2020.

“The Student Emergency Fund has been a godsend for students in need. Donor gifts to the fund help cover everything from books to medical bills to helping a student fly home in a crisis,” says Johnson. Students have to be enrolled to be eligible, and funding has already begun to be dispersed for those who have applied. Johnson anticipates that need will increase as we prepare for the 2020–21 academic year.

“It’s hard to anticipate all the reasons our students might need prolonged assistance coping with the devastating financial impact of this crisis. We expect some will be impacted directly because they contract the virus, lose work, or because their families have been hit with major expenses,” she says. “The time to give is now.”

Johnson adds that gifts to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which so far have helped meet immediate needs, will also play a crucial role in outfitting the College for its post-peak pandemic state. Measures could include expanding space in residence halls to reduce density, creating outdoor learning spaces, launching new sanitation protocols, redesigning the dining experience to maintain a level of physical distance, and more.

These precautions will enable the College to welcome students back to campus as soon as it is safe to do so and will help revive the vibrant residential culture so valued by the Scripps community.

“Scripps’ immersive experience is part of the magic that produces global citizens who make so many contributions to society,” says Johnson, noting that Day of Giving is the ideal moment for the Scripps family to showcase their characteristic support. “One of the reasons I’m honored to be part of Scripps is how we take seriously the notion of community and the obligation to care for others. I’m so proud of how our community has joined us in supporting our students, faculty, and staff. That’s in the Scripps DNA.”

Supporting the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Student Emergency Funds are just two powerful ways you can make a difference on Scripps’ Day of Giving. To make a gift today, please click here.

Interested in learning more? Check out our latest giving and impact news here.