Apply Now for Great Lakes Dash Emergency Grant Program
New Grant OpportunityApply Now for Great Lakes' Dash Emergency Grant Program
For many community college students, unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical bills can cause serious financial strain. This can lead to dropped classes, or dropping out altogether. The good news is that many students in these situations have modest needs to keep their college goals on track.
In 2012, Great Lakes made a three-year, $1.9 million commitment to Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges to offer small grants for Pell recipients who experience unforeseen financial emergencies. Students apply for grants directly from their college and emergency expenses are paid within 48 hours or less of the approved application. By promptly removing financial distractions, students can return focus to their studies and keep moving toward college completion. If underlying issues for the financial emergency are discovered, students also are referred to campus and community resources for additional assistance.
Northcentral Technical College (NTC) student and single father Jason Wolfgram had lost his job and got behind on rent, utilities and his truck payment. He was determined to keep food on the table, stay in school and look for work, but then his vehicle was threatened for repossession. Fortunately, Jason heard about NTC's student emergency funds. He was approved for a grant that made his truck payment, and soon after, he was hired at a new company and increased his income. "To some people, $500 doesn't seem like a lot. But for the Wolfgrams it helped significantly," he said.
In Wisconsin, more than 2,000 students like Jason have benefitted from grants averaging $480. Of those who received emergency grants during fall 2013, 79% either graduated or remained enrolled as of fall 2014, compared to only 51% of similar students before the program began.
It's clear to us that emergency grant programs work. Great Lakes is now introducing Dash, a newly expanded emergency grant program for two-year public technical/community colleges in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin or their associated foundations. Dash will help more colleges establish, manage and sustain emergency grant programs that quickly award small grants to help keep more low-income students enrolled despite financial setbacks.
Up to 32 colleges will be awarded grants of up to $99,000 over three years. Great Lakes' funding commitment will partially underwrite student emergency grants, cover a portion of related administrative expenses, and fully cover the cost of the Scholarship America® web portal to be used for emergency grant applications and reporting.
The grant period will be January 1, 2016, through May 31, 2018, and will include three months for administrative planning, training and setup on the web portal. The first student emergency grants will be made during spring 2016.
To help establish sustainability after the end of the grant period, colleges must commit matching funds of at least 20% of the amount designated for student grants in the 2016-2017 academic year and 40% in 2017-2018.
Sheila Rossmiller, Resource Development Coordinator at NTC, has raised funds to support Jason and other students who experienced financial emergencies. She said, "The numbers and stories generated by the emergency grant program illustrate its success in helping students persist and graduate, which can be translated into results the donor helped create. Developing that personal connection plays a key role in asking donors to embrace the cause."
Applications for the Dash program are available at community.mygreatlakes.org and are due September 3, 2015. Applicants are encouraged to join a webinar on July 21 for essential information and helpful tips. Those who are unable to attend can view the recording posted within one week of the event.
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