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COVID-19 emergency fund for undocumented and international students



Together with the Rutgers-Camden Define American Chapter team, Humanity in Action Fellow Melani Cruz Stokes created a fund to help undocumented/DACAmented and international students who are excluded from receiving assistance through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act emergency relief fund and other federal emergency aid programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, the U.S. federal government provided additional funding to colleges and universities to support their students through the CARES Act. However, the U.S. Department of Education limits which students can receive those funds to only those who have filled out the FAFSA (federal student aid). This bars undocumented/DACAmented and international students from applying and receiving aid. Melani and her peers decided to initiate the Undocumented & International Students Emergency Fund as a part of a #COVIDRelief4All campaign after listening to affected students who also are experiencing serious financial hardships due to the pandemic. The emergency fund will provide financial support to Rutgers—Camden undocumented/DACAmented and international students who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their goal is to reach $5,000 by the end of next week, according to the crowdfunding page.

“Our Define American chapter aims to uplift the voices of international and undocumented students because it can be difficult for them to speak out against the inequalities they face without fear of retaliation,” she said. “We need to have these conversations about how we can better support our undocumented and international students, not just during the pandemic. They are an integral part of what makes Rutgers-Camden so unique, and it is time that we, as a university and community, show our support for them.”

Learn more about the project and donate here. For more insights into the project and Melani Cruz Stokes’ work, you may also be interested in reading this recent publication by Rutgers-Camden News.