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Partners, alumni, and supporters help aid JCSU students during COVID-19 pandemic

Graphic: COVID-19 Relief

Charlotte, N.C. / April 14, 2020 - The challenges brought on by COVID-19 has affected the Johnson C. Smith University community, just as it has other institutions and communities across the world. In response to the pandemic, JCSU announced major changes for the campus operations in March 2020. JCSU extended Spring Break, transitioned all courses to online instruction and the administration made the difficult decision to remove students from on-campus housing in an effort to adhere to federal and local guidelines from health officials. 

“This was one of the most challenging crisis to manage. We had to make quick decisions as new discoveries were announced sometimes daily,” said Dr. Takeem Dean, dean of students.

The transition was also difficult for students, especially those facing financial challenges, who needed to return home during the pandemic.

Johnson C. Smith University pooled funding resources to assist students in the change from taking classes on campus to taking classes online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the largest sources of funding came from alumni and donors who contributed to the JCSU Student Relief Fund established by the Division of Institutional Advancement. Dr. Cathy Jones, associate dean of Access and Academic Achievement Services and Dr. Takeem Dean, Dean of Students, spearheaded the process of providing aid directly to students to assist them with moving off campus and resources needed for online classes. The financial assistance given to students is comprised of funds from the UNCF Emergency Retention Grant, the Emergency Aid Grant Project Success/Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), and the JCSU Student Relief Fund, totaling to more than $20,000. Click the here to learn more.

While funds from the grants can only be distributed to qualifying students, the money donated to the University has already helped a number of students, who had to vacate the University by March 26. 

“We have always understood the challenges many of our students face on a daily basis. However, financial support was and continues to be needed beyond the scope of existing resources,” Jones added.

According to Jones, the money donated to JCSU, paid for incidentals, including travel, food, and storage for students who needed assistance.

Lauren Hines ’22, who decided to stay in Charlotte during this pandemic, is one of many students who benefitted from the student relief fund.

“With the help of the University, I received a grocery store gift card to purchase essential items I needed while in quarantine,” she said. 

As Jones emphasized, the grant money will be beneficial in making sure students remain in school during these unprecedented times. She predicts the UNCF grant, which has to be distributed by June, will help at least 30 students financially. 

Hines, and other students are grateful for the efforts made by the University during the pandemic. She added, “The development of this fund shows the willingness and support of the University for its students during this crisis.”

Dean, who works directly with students on a daily basis, emphasized the unity he has seen from the JCSU community during this difficult time.

“The overwhelming and generous support of alumni and corporate partners has been phenomenal.  While this is a new normal for all of us in the landscape of higher education and in the world, we remain Smith strong,” he said.

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