Published November 2, 2020

A Message from Nancy Cantor

Chancellor, Rutgers University–Newark

As we continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutgers University–Newark is laser-focused on not just maintaining, but enhancing our equity goals for student success, social mobility, and anchor-institution impact in Newark and throughout New Jersey. The pandemic has hurt so many of our students and their families, as well as many of our faculty and staff.

As a federally designated Hispanic Service Institution with a majority of Pell-eligible students, an institution with a focus on the Black and Brown residents of Newark (14.5 percent of our undergraduates are from the city), an institution committed to supporting New Jersey Dreamers, and the backbone of a statewide prison education program, Rutgers–Newark is home to students who come from precisely the backgrounds most disparately and negatively impacted by the pandemic.

We must, therefore, double down on our investments to support our students. Those include

  • bolstering our Student Emergency Fund to provide financial support to students whose families are reeling from income loss as a result of the pandemic and the damage to health and well-being caused by COVID-19 itself
  • strengthening health and wellness support, as well as innovative programs to promote campus cohesion, as students navigate the pandemic’s unprecedented stresses
  • enhancing technology to overcome the digital divide, including our iPad program for new students, the Student Technology Loaner Program, and technical support through our Student Technology LaunchPad
  • retrofitting our academic spaces to assure social distancing and our residence halls to assist students with housing security issues
  • investing in our food pantry—pantryRUN—to address general food insecurity among our students and staff
  • strengthening our nationally recognized student success strategies
  • supporting New Jersey’s equity goals, such as increasing investments in proven academic, financial, and student-life support that significantly smooth the path to graduation, even in these uncertain times

The following report provides a glimpse of how you and other Rutgers–Newark donors address these kinds of challenges with us. Although the report features only a few funds, I hope you will see in these stories reflections of how you help make a difference. We know even more inspiring stories await to be written with your continued support, even during such unprecedented times.

Unforgettable Generosity

Donors who support scholarships at the School of Arts and Sciences–Newark help ease the financial burdens of pursuing a college degree. For many students, scholarship support is critical and can be the deciding factor in pursuing their dreams.

Akeem Miller is a recent scholarship recipient. Born in Jamaica, Miller is a senior economics major with a 3.8 GPA. Last year, due to his financial circumstances, he could not register for classes until he received scholarship support. Thanks to the generosity of donors, he was able to continue at Rutgers–Newark. “It was an honor to receive the scholarship,” he says. “The feeling was euphoric and humbling because individuals at [Rutgers–Newark] recognized my efforts.”

Miller is studying economics because he wants “to learn how to manage my resources and change my circumstances. I believe that studying economics has given me the knowledge that will help me immensely.” After receiving his scholarship last year, Miller was able to participate in a virtual internship at Morgan Stanley. “This internship gave me personal and professional growth,” he says. “I took constructive criticism and learned from it.” The drive and dedication he demonstrated led Morgan Stanley to offer him a full-time position after he graduates this summer.

Miller wants scholarship donors to know what a difference their support makes for Rutgers–Newark students. “Thank you for your generosity,” he says. “Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for making our dreams closer to reality. We will never forget your generosity.”

Poetry in Motion

All Rutgers–Newark donors make a difference with their gifts, and we are inspired by their commitment to the university and its students. Moreover, a number of these donors are known to students by another role they play—that of Rutgers employees. Rutgers–Newark is proud that so many staff and faculty members support our students with gifts, in addition to their daily job functions.

Rachel Hadas is a celebrated poet and a Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers–Newark, but she is also a longtime donor. She began her support for Rutgers–Newark in the early 1990s with a donation of a collection of books after her mother passed away. The books are in the collection at Dana Library. Since then, Hadas has continued to support Rutgers with gifts, including creating an annual scholarship. Additionally, University Libraries holds the archives of her creative works.

Supporting Rutgers–Newark was an easy decision for her. “Rutgers–Newark walks the walk. It is a university committed to its mission,” she says. Her students also have inspired her to be a donor. “The best students are the most grateful. They are hardworking and understand that education is a privilege. They do not take it for granted.”

“Teaching is all about passing things on to our students,” Hadas says. “We can’t take it with us. We need to pass it along.” She also sees a link between the impact of poetry and giving. “You don’t know exactly who your poetry will reach, and you don’t know exactly who your giving will affect, but the contribution is important.”

The dedication of faculty and staff donors like Hadas helps inspire creativity inside the classroom and throughout all of Rutgers–Newark.

Help When It’s Needed Most

Gifts to the Student Emergency Fund at Rutgers–Newark provide financial assistance to students facing unforeseen emergencies, such as accidents, illness, death of a primary caregiver, homelessness, and other life-changing events. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency funding has become even more critical for students impacted by this crisis. Donor support for emergency funding has provided a lifeline to students hit hard by the pandemic.

Between March 1 and the start of the fall 2020 semester, the fund awarded more than $620,000 in emergency assistance to about 550 students. Ninety percent of those students sought emergency funding because of lost jobs or reduced hours. As we continue to experience the pandemic’s economic impact, donor support for emergency funds remains a priority.

Boris Nolasco, an environmental science major who will graduate in 2021, received emergency aid from the fund and describes the difference the support made in his life. “The extra funding not only helped my family keep a roof over our heads, but it also provided a sense of stability for us as we continued to work, study, and care for one another through such uncertain times,” he says. “I do hope more can be made available so that other students can, even for a minute, have peace of mind again. Thank you.”

Empowering Student Success

On Rutgers Giving Day in June, the School of Criminal Justice’s donors demonstrated a commitment to the school’s students by enthusiastically supporting the Academic Excellence Fund. Seventy-four donors gave $5,650 to support students.

The response to Rutgers Giving Day led to two new initiatives: an undergraduate book scholarship to be awarded each semester to two students and a research award for undergraduate and graduate students who propose creative research projects. The initiatives will support students’ aspirations and commitment to social justice. Lori Scott-Pickens, director of community outreach and learning at the school, says donors make a difference. “Stay with us on this journey,” she says. “Your support encourages our students. Gifts from donors go directly to supporting education and creating opportunities for our students.”

A Seat at the Table

The School of Public Affairs and Administration’s Student Ambassador Program is a multilevel leadership opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students who subscribe to the values of competence, diversity, knowledge, ethics, and service. Donors who give to the school’s Ambassador Support Fund fuel this professional development experience for students selected to represent the school in various initiatives, including admissions and engagement.

Graduate student Samantha Minchello wanted to be an ambassador “because it is an opportunity that is mutually beneficial to both me and the greater SPAA community. Not only does it enhance my leadership skills, build my network, and allow me to participate in professional development opportunities, but it gives me the chance to give back to the SPAA community by giving the students a seat at the table with the administration. I am proud to help be the voice of the larger SPAA student body and help build a stronger, more diverse, and inclusive school.”

Ambassadors collaborate with students, alumni, faculty, and staff via committees that address

  • recruiting and retaining the next generation of public service leaders
  • raising funds for the giving priorities promoted by the school
  • building bridges among students, alumni, faculty, and staff to create new opportunities for engaging with the greater Newark community
  • fostering discussions on creating change that positively influences the school community

Ambassadors appreciate the opportunity donors have helped make possible. “To the donors who have supported this program, we could not thank you enough,” says Minchello. “The School of Public Affairs and Administration is training the next generation of public administrators who have the ideals of public service and leadership. Your contribution to these future leaders helps ensure that they will have the training and resources necessary to achieve.”

Make a Difference

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