SF State crisis fund lends a hand to students affected by COVID-19
Since the pandemic’s start, the University community has raised more than $500K to help students in need
Juthaporn Chaloeicheep’s path to a degree has never been smooth. She first attended San Francisco State University in the 1990s but left without graduating after having a child. Years of addiction, homelessness and incarceration followed. She was able to get back on track in the last few years, however, and a San Francisco State degree was finally within reach.
Then the pandemic hit. Chaloeicheep’s work hours with a hospitality staffing agency rapidly dwindled, making it difficult for her to pay rent, buy food and take care of her youngest son, she said. “I was going to be at risk of not being able to graduate,” Chaloeicheep added.
Fortunately, Chaloeicheep was able to get help from SF State’s Help, Opportunity and Pathway to Empowerment (HOPE) Crisis Fund. The program provides financial assistance to students dealing with unexpected crises so they can continue their studies and graduate. “It takes a village to have helped me, and that’s what SF State was able to provide,” said Chaloeicheep. With support from the fund, she was able to stay on track through her last semester and earn her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.
Unfortunately, Chaloeicheep’s hardly the only student facing hardship this year: HOPE Crisis Fund applications have skyrocketed, with more than 1,000 coming in since March. “It became a different story once COVID-19 hit,” said SF State Interim Associate Dean of Students Pam Su, who helps oversee the fund. “Recently, most students who needed help from the fund were experiencing a loss of income. That was less common before the pandemic.”
To address this need, the HOPE Crisis Fund shifted its focus to assisting students who’ve been impacted by the pandemic. The program has given hundreds of thousands of dollars of support to hundreds of students. Yet the available funds simply haven’t been able to meet demand, says Su, which is why SF State recently launched a new fundraising effort, the Campaign for HOPE, to help more students in need. The Campaign for HOPE runs through Oct. 23.
Through another campaign this spring, the University raised funds for the HOPE Crisis Fund from more than 500 donors, including SF State alumna and former Director and Vice Chair of Bebe Stores Neda Nobari (B.S., ’84) and lifelong Bay Area resident and philanthropist Kathy Kwan. The Genentech Foundation and the SF State Foundation also stepped up to provide support. “I’m really grateful for the people who see the benefit of donating to this fund and how much it helps our students succeed,” Su said at the time. “Because of their generosity, our students have the support they need to get through these trying times.”
Unfortunately, those trying times continue. And as Su sees it, the HOPE Crisis Fund isn’t just about helping students get past temporary setbacks. It allows them to complete an academic journey that will provide extra security and stability for the rest of their lives. “Their personal well-being is directly tied to their success here at SF State,” she said. “We hope that students who need assistance realize that they’re not alone and that someone cares.”