Last fall Genevieve Hummel (AMAT 3rd year) learned that her friend, an Illinois Tech student, would have to leave the university because his father was considering bankruptcy. Hummel says that her classmate attempted a university aid appeal but was told that no funding was available. It gave Hummel, a University Scholar, an idea to propose to her fellow students on the Student Gift Committee.
“I suggested that the student gift be funding for appeals so that more appeals could be approved,” she explains. “I know that the Office of Financial Aid would like to approve more, but the money has to come from somewhere.”
The group liked Hummel’s idea and the aptly named Hawks 4 Hawks Hardship Fund launched last November on Giving Day, a 24-hour event that connects alumni to giving opportunities at Illinois Tech.
“Approximately 20 to 25 students every year drop out of Illinois Tech and cut their educations short,” says Tristan Bush, Student Gift Committee co-chair and a new engineering management graduate. “When we asked for donations and spread awareness about this on the MTCC [The McCormick Tribune Campus Center] Bridge, for example, we had many students stop to ask questions including how can they apply for the award. While the committee can’t help each student directly, we don’t want them to be in the position to have to worry about their finances.”
By the end of the spring 2017 semester, Hawks 4 Hawks raised $20,000. At $2,500 per gift allotment, eight full-time students received assistance. In addition to student donors, this year’s committee was able to garner support from alumni board members, parents, faculty, and staff, making it possible for more students to receive assistance from the fund.
“The largest proportion of donors were students [at 528 by the end of the 2017 spring semester], but most students, in general, don’t have a lot of money to donate,” says Camras Scholar Brianna McKenna (Co-terminal BME/CHE 3rd year), Student Gift Committee co-chair. “When Genevieve brought up this idea, it really hit home for me,” she says. “In spring 2016 my friend had to leave the university because her dad was diagnosed with cancer; the cost of the treatment would have been too much for her family in addition to paying for school. If there had been opportunities for more financial appeals to be approved, maybe she could have stayed.”