Meeting Needs in a Global Pandemic
A little more than a year after the public launch of the Give Light Campaign, Baylor University was rapidly learning about COVID-19, a little-understood virus that brought with it many unknowns. Within days, students who had left campus for Spring Break in 2020 were notified that, like all of higher education, Baylor would be transitioning to online learning after the true severity of the global pandemic came to light.
For many students, as the country began closing down, the new reality brought with it the loss of part-time jobs, hardships at home as family members fell ill and financial burden as they suddenly grappled with emergency expenses. Weeks into Baylor’s new reality, President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., addressed the student body via Facebook Live, acknowledging the hardships students were facing and committing to supporting Baylor students’ physical and financial needs beyond the classroom.
Her call for support was answered by the Baylor Family. Within weeks, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends and even students came together and gave as they could to the President’s Excellence Fund, raising more than $1.5 million in current gifts that were then turned into emergency fund grants for students in need.
“We witnessed alumni rush forward to give, many of whom referenced the supportive community they benefited from during their time as a student and their gratitude to pay that forward, and we were humbled at the strong response as previous generations of Baylor’s students gave as they could — $25, $50 and more in gifts to the President’s Excellence Fund,” said Livingstone. “Their genuine hope was to show support for our students, and that’s the community we hope to foster at Baylor, one where we show our care and support, as brothers and sisters in Christ, for one another.”
In the months that followed, as the 2020 academic year ended remotely, the Baylor Family helped fund and administer $1,557,968 in emergency funds from the President’s Excellence Fund to more than 1,900 students.
There were some challenging times ahead for Baylor’s students as they returned to campus and continued to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. There would be points of light, too, as the Baylor Family answered a call of support, providing a reminder of what is possible when all members of Baylor’s community come together in support of one another.
Meeting Students’ Needs, One Project at a Time
The Baylor Family is made up of alumni, parents and others who are tied to the University for many different reasons, and their giving mirrors that diversity. One group who consistently makes their mark on the Baylor experience are Baylor Parents — both past and present.
Many of these members of the Baylor Family have used the Baylor Parent Fund to make an impact through their gifts. Each year, the Baylor Parent Fund raises support for students, with a volunteer board meeting in the fall to consider funding requests submitted by the University’s staff.
“The Baylor Parent Fund’s purpose is to support the programs and resources that most directly affect the largest populations of our Baylor students,” said Molly Ferguson, senior director of development and parent principal gifts, who works with the Parent Advisory Council to identify and allocate gifts from the fund. “Our parents pray over the needs presented to them, and they are diligent in using those funds to meet the spiritual, emotional and practical needs of our students — the needs that go beyond what scholarships support.”
In fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022, the Baylor Parent Fund has allocated more than $786,500 to support Baylor community initiatives such as:
- Technology assistance for blind and visually impaired students
- Textbook scholarship funds
- Expanding chaplaincy and pastoral care programs
- Increasing mental health-certified trainers within Student Life
- Support for Baylor’s Faith & Character Study
- Faculty stipends for digital textbooks to increase availability and affordability
- Refurnishing study spaces in Jones Library and tutoring spaces within the Paul L. Foster Success Center