Crowdfunding campaign aims to reduce barriers to students’ success

Help support UIC students experiencing food insecurity or financial emergencies by donating to a crowdfunding campaign that aims to reduce barriers that prevent students from accomplishing their educational goals.

The “Fuel the Flames” fundraising campaign, organized by UIC Advancement and UIC Student Affairs, benefits the UIC Pop-Up Pantry and U&I Care Student Emergency Fund. The campaign will be accepting donations through May 26.

The UIC Pop-Up Pantry, which opened in 2004, distributes as much as 3,000 pounds of food per week to students experiencing food insecurity.

“UIC’s campus community works hard to increase the social mobility of our students, 60 percent of whom are Pell Grant-eligible,” said Carol Petersen, co-founder of the pantry. “Academic success, retention and graduation are connected to having access to basic and essential needs. The UIC Pop-Up Pantry connects students to the fundamental need of food.”

Having access to nutritious food helps students perform well in the classroom, Petersen said.

“Decades of research shows that good grades are positively associated with students eating a nutritious breakfast and lunch that includes fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Petersen, senior director of UIC health education and wellness at the Wellness Center. “Research holds a mirror to what’s happening in classrooms. It informs and reminds us that it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry.”

Since 2018, the U&I Care Student Emergency Fund has given more than $140,000 to students unable to meet essential expenses due to an unexpected hardship. These grants, which provide temporary, short-term financial assistance, could be the difference between a student staying in college or dropping out, said Annette Wright, associate dean of students.

“The U&I Care emergency grant supports UIC students who, due to unforeseen circumstances, find themselves facing financial hardship which might prevent them from continuing at UIC,” Wright said. “The grant allows the institution to respond to students’ immediate needs.”

Throughout the pandemic, the grant has provided funding to students to assist with medical emergencies, housing support and technology needs, Wright said.

Donate to the campaign on the Flames Funded website.

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