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Video Spotlight: Rapid Response Small Grants Help Partners Serve Students during COVID-19

August 18, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic rippled across the United States, ECMC Foundation took swift action and created its first Rapid Response Small Grants Program. In just two weeks after launching, ECMC Foundation disbursed $583,850 to 65 organizations, which reach a total of 4.2 million students. Most grants were $10,000.

Northern New Mexico College serves a rural population where 48% of homes do not have access to internet. Their Rapid Response Small Grants funding contributed to the cost of 112 Chrome Books to lend, free of cost to students. The grant freed up funds for the team to use for other pressing student needs.

Rapid Response Small Grant funds went toward initiatives across the country covering everything from cancelled events to online learning initiatives. For underresourced institutions, there is unlimited potential for what you can do with $10,000. It can be what takes an issue from the margins to the mainstream.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice estimates that 1 in 3 of their students are essential workers serving New York City on the frontlines. Students have been keeping the city functional and safe as EMTs, healthcare professionals, food and delivery service staff, retail workers, police officers and firefighters. The Rapid Response Small Grants funding will support no cost summer courses for 25 of these students to make up for time they missed in the classroom so they can regain lost academic momentum. The grant sparked a campus-wide action that resulted in finding funding to enable more students to take summer courses.

College Success Foundation inspires underserved, low-income students to finish high school, graduate from college and succeed in life. They used their Rapid Response Small Grants funds to purchase new laptops so their advisors could continue supporting students effectively while working at home.

The Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative, or THEI, brings college access to incarcerated individuals in Tennessee prisons. According to a recent comprehensive study from RAND, incarcerated individuals who participate in higher education prison programs are half as likely to return to prison. The team already put their Rapid Response Small Grants funds to use helping to hire a full-time reentry coordinator. Their new staff member provides more robust wraparound supports to help alumni navigate the job market and their successful re-entry into society.

As the crisis continues to unfold, ECMC Foundation is committed to prioritizing the needs of underserved students and the organizations that support them.

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