• May 27, 2020

UTPB sets first online event Wednesday - Odessa American: UTPB

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UTPB sets first online event Wednesday

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Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 7:31 pm

We’ve all heard the phrase it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Taking on that spirit is University of Texas Permian Basin’s first Falcon Giving Day.

The 24-hour online event is set for Wednesday to support the Student Emergency Fund and the UTPB Food Pantry, Annual Giving Coordinator Danielle Davila said. The funds can go for anything from fixing a car or computer to renting a U-Haul or plane fare home.

The idea is to inspire a sense of energy around UTPB graduates near and far, including alumni, donors, faculty and staff.

“A gift of any size makes an enormous impact, whether it’s a $5 gift or $5,000,” Davila said.

The goal is to have 250 donors give on Falcon Giving Day. The effort comes a time of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the downturn in oil prices.

“We (are) very aware that our community is hurting. So many https://www.utpb.edu/givingdaypeople are g oing through navigating the craziest times. That’s why funding is needed more now than ever,” Davila said.

“We urge people to give and give back at utpb.edu/givingday,” Davila said.

When people contribute, Davila said they want people to share it on social media to create what she called a give-a-lanche.

The hope is to have Falcon Giving Day annually.

Vice President for Student Affairs Becky Spurlock said the emergency fund enables UTPB to help students who experience short-term financial hardship.

“I think many people think of college as a carefree, easy time but the reality is is that a significant portion of students across the United States, and certainly at UTPB, have very, very limited resources and so when you are barely getting by, or taking out loans to cover your living expenses and then something goes awry often it all comes,” tumbling down, Spurlock said.

She added that research, particularly by the Lumina Foundation, has shown that it’s often very small amounts of money that students need to remain enrolled.

“They may find that their car breaks down and they don’t have enough money to get it fixed to get back and forth to their job, or to campus it may be that they have trouble with food insecurity they need some help to get regular access to food …,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock said they work with students who learn about the fund through referrals on campus, or students can send them notes.

“We have a form students can fill out to say I need help and we have a team of folks that reviews that information and then goes to work trying to help the student. Sometimes the result is they may not know we have existing resources that can help them, or sometimes it’s just a matter of connecting them sometimes they need some kind of financial assistance in which case the committee reviews that and then they’ll get small amounts from us institutionally to help solve whatever the particular issue is,” Spurlock said.

Students helped by the fund are already there. She noted that financial trouble is one of the reasons students leave college. These are students that have already invested thousands in their education, but may need less than $1,000 to continue.

“They’re already showing their commitment to getting an education, to getting a bachelor’s, or a master’s degree. They’ve done the hard work of getting themselves to college and doing well. That’s the hardest part; we want to keep them,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock said they see a wide variety of student needs.

“And I think when folks just don’t have (the funds), or live very close to the line it doesn’t take very much going wrong before it begins to feel like there’s no way to manage this,” Spurlock said.

The emergency student aid is one part of a more comprehensive approach to support at UTPB.

“We’ve also offered completion grants for students that are at the very end of their college experience and just need a little help to get over the line. We have a new partnership with the West Texas Food Bank. We’ve had a food pantry for some time, but this is going to allow us to serve more people with more options and more healthy fresh fruits. That’s a wonderful program,” Spurlock said.

“We have technology support on campus where students can borrow laptops. We have child care on campus. We have a financial literacy program on campus. All of our students learn about money. We have a medical services program. We have book loans, so this is one very important element but it is part of a suite of programs and services that we offer to support students to make college more accessible for them,” Spurlock said.

She added that UTPB has had a significant response from students who needed help specifically related to what’s happening with COVID-19.

When UTPB and other UT System schools moved to remote instruction and asked those who could to move home, that created a significant need for some students, such as being able to have food to eat, transportation and access to technology, among other items, Spurlock said.

As a result, she added, the emergency grant team went into hyperdrive.”so that emergency grant team went into “hyperdrive.”

“In the course of a week, I think they served more than 100 students,” she said.

Spurlock noted that small gifts to the fund can make a huge difference.

“It’s the little support and the big support. We need all of it to make the college experience work.”

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