Big Ten Conference Kicks Off Weeklong Fundraiser for Student Support
Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
Starting today, Terps can help put a pancake block on food insecurity, run interference for students facing unexpected tough times and record an assist for the education of student-athletes—all while squaring off in a friendly giving contest with a Big Ten rival.
For the next seven days, the second annual One Big Week event aims to support crucial resources at the University of Maryland that help students successfully complete their educations: the Student Crisis Fund and the Campus Pantry, which were part of last year’s fundraiser; and new this year, the Terrapin Club Impact Fund.
“The Big Ten is coming together with the idea that everyone deserves equal access to a quality education, and that it’s important to support student success, because they’re the leaders of the future,” said Diana Forbus, annual giving manager for the Division of University Relations.
Although the grim crisis mode that prevailed in the early days of the pandemic have significantly abated since lockdowns lifted, classes returned in-person and jobs reopened, the baseline needs for assistance that existed pre-COVID haven’t gone away—not even close, said a staffer who has helped distribute about $2.1 million through the Student Crisis Fund since March 2020.
“Emergencies and crises still exist for our students,” said Sarah Williamson, manager of events and special projects in the Division of Student Affairs. “While we have dropped in the number of applications from our pandemic height, we are still vastly greater than what we were pre-pandemic. We used to receive two to three applications in a week, and throughout the spring semester, we averaged 20 to 40 applications per week.”
A similar situation prevails at the Campus Pantry, which drew over 8,400 visits in the 2019-20 academic year, especially at the start of the pandemic; many of them were from UMD staffers whose family members had lost their jobs. But even a far calmer 2020-21 saw 7,500 client visits, said Allison Tjaden, interim associate director of Dining Services responsible for the Campus Pantry.
Since last year, the pantry has been operating out of a new location in the South Campus Dining Hall building with more space to stock healthy foods and an industrial walk-in fridge for extensive cold storage—factors that have allowed it to expand its operations. With the broadened use and awareness of how the pantry supports nutritious eating, Tjaden ventures a prediction: “I expect this year we’re going to be serving more students than we ever have before.”
New to the fundraiser this year, the Terrapin Club Impact Fund supports scholarships to about 550 student-athletes on campus.
“The fund directly supports their education and overall college experience,” said Matt Monroe, associate athletic director for annual giving and ticket operations. “Without those scholarships we wouldn’t be able to have intercollegiate athletics, and some of those student-athletes might not have an opportunity to attend the university.”
To inject some competitive flair into the week, schools are pairing up to compete on different giving metrics, with UMD facing off against Rutgers on athletic scholarship donations. The winner claims just bragging rights, Monroe said—but students at both institutions get the long-term victory.
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