DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Now We Must: The Campaign for DePaul's Students
By Kristin Claes Mathews /
September 10, 2020 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
In response to the greater needs many students are facing this year, the university is launching
Now We Must: The Campaign for DePaul's Students. The accelerated fundraising campaign aims to raise $60 million this academic year to meet student needs.
“Unprecedented events and enduring challenges are combining to make a DePaul education that is driven by Vincentian values increasingly necessary for our world but increasingly uncertain for our students,” says A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., president of DePaul. “We must ensure that our students have the resources they need to keep their aspirations within reach."
The yearlong effort will raise support for five areas: scholarships, emergency funds, technology, internships and mental health. DePaul seeks to raise most of the funds in cash, so they can be put to use right away. The campaign is guided by the question posed by St. Vincent de Paul, the university’s namesake, “What must be done?”
“Those words drive everything we do at DePaul,” says Sasha Gerritson, campaign chair and member of the Board of Trustees. “While our students have responded with resilience, now we must do what we can to bring them through this crisis. This ambitious campaign comes at a moment when we must live up to our ideals — our students’ and our own."
Dan Allen, vice president for advancement at DePaul, is asking alumni, parents, donors and friends of the university to step up for students.
“DePaul recognizes that we need to do more. Despite deep economic uncertainty, our goal is to build on the momentum of last year, which was one of the most successful fundraising years in the university’s history,” Allen says. Areas of focus for the campaign are:
“Even in the best of times, our students come to us with unique needs,” Allen says. For the 2020-21 academic year, DePaul has increased its financial aid pool nearly 5.1 percent over the previous year to $266.4 million. Some 32 percent of full-time undergrads receive Pell Grants, which demonstrate the highest level of financial need, and 83 percent of incoming freshman receive scholarship support. While DePaul did not increase tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, some students report struggling to make ends meet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic upheaval, and many DePaul students are struggling to afford not just their education but basic needs. In spring 2020, DePaul’s Student Emergency Assistance Fund disbursed nearly $525,000 to more than 550 students—10 times its normal granting pace. This campaign will help close the gap for even more students who have unexpected expenses for housing, food and other immediate needs.
With most DePaul students studying remotely, a demand has emerged from students who do not have access to basic technology they need, let alone the amenities offered on campus. Fundraising for technology will help remove these barriers, says Allen.
“Students need everything from laptops to increased Wi-Fi access,” he says.
The real-world experience of internships and jobs is vital for student success, and many DePaul students rely on bringing home a paycheck. Some 65 percent of DePaul students work part time while enrolled, and many students are struggling to find companies that can pay interns due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, Allen says. Funds raised in this area will go toward stipends that allow students to return to unpaid internships. The university will also increase support for students' professional development.
The emotional and spiritual toll of the pandemic on students has compelled DePaul to deepen its commitment in the area of mental health, Allen says. In addition to one-on-one counseling, funds raised in this area will increase the capacity of online programming.
Now We Must is a campaign to help ensure students have what they need to continue progressing toward a DePaul degree, Allen says, making sure that we do everything we possibly can to ensure that no student is at risk of dropping out.
“DePaul is dedicated to offering access to a high quality education to students from diverse backgrounds, and this campaign allows us to support students’ urgent and critical needs. A community as grateful and strong as ours can rise as one. And now, we must,” he says.
Learn more on the campaign website and watch the campaign video below.