Union Launches Fund to Help Students During Emergencies

The University Faculty Association at the University of Montana today launched a new fund to aid students struggling with emergency expenses.

The faculty union created the fund with an aim toward helping students at UM and Missoula College who are struggling with expenses that could force them to not complete the spring semester or drop out of college entirely.

“Professors often hear about students struggling with a lost job or broken down car or eviction, and having heard so many of these stories, we knew we needed to act,” said UFA President Megan Stark.

Stark said that the UFA applied for and received a grant from the Philadelphia, Pa.-based non-profit Believe in Students to create the UFA FAST Fund.

A FAST (Faculty and Students Together) Fund creates a source of money that students who are facing immediate financial needs can easily apply to and quickly receive money from. The UFA, Montana Federation of Public Employees, and the UM President’s Office have all matched the initial grant.

The fund will help students cover costs like food or rental assistance, medical expenses, and utilities, especially those that facilitate remote instruction. Although it is intended to help students struggling at the present time with COVID, the Fund is a permanent one the UFA hopes will aid students in the future, as well.

“There are so many issues that affect how a student can perform in school that have nothing to do with academics or working hard, but are about struggling with very real world issues. This fund aims to help those students so they can succeed at UM,” said Professor Daisy Rooks, who helped establish the FAST Fund.

Information and the application are available now at the UFA website.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received by a panel of retired faculty members and the UFA hopes to disperse the funds quickly to students in need.

Current and former faculty members who want to help can contribute to the FAST Fund to help students. To make a donation, please visit PayPal. After you have indicated the amount of your donation in PayPal, you’ll see a line that reads “Special instructions to the seller.” As long as you put “University of Montana” or “UFA Fast Fund” in that line, 100% of your donation will go to the UFA’s fund.

If you have questions about the fund, or the best ways to support the fund, please contact UFA board member Daisy Rooks via email at daisy.rooks@umontana.edu

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