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Supporting Students Financially During COVID-19

Fletcher Jones Foundation grant helps MSMU aid students in time of economic uncertainty

October 20, 2020

A new $200,000 grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation helped Mount Saint Mary’s University directly support students who were impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift, which was awarded this summer, was leveraged immediately to assist students this semester.

The grant enabled Mount Saint Mary’s to provide more scholarships to offset tuition costs for some of its most at-risk students. Additionally, the Mount used funds to purchase COVID tests to ensure the health and safety of the few students who are living at the Chalon campus. As the majority of those students are housing insecure, they are among our most vulnerable students, and the University’s priority is to provide them with the access and support they need to pursue their educations.

The grant has enabled the University to provide more scholarships to offset tuition costs for some of its students.
The grant has enabled the University to provide more scholarships to offset tuition costs for some of its students.

“The Fletcher Jones Foundation is a longtime and generous supporter of the Mount, with numerous endowed funds and direct grants,” says President Ann McElaney-Johnson. “We are gratified to receive this additional investment in our University that will help us support our students who need it the most right now.”

Mount Saint Mary’s, which instituted a tuition freeze this academic year for all returning students, is one of 18 organizations to receive a grant from the foundation specifically to help weather the economic impact of COVID-19.

“The foundation’s board made the decision to temporarily suspend our regular grant making to assist some of our long-term partners, like the Mount, through these trying economic times as a result of the pandemic,” says Mary J. Spellman, EdD, executive director and treasurer of the Fletcher Jones Foundation. “We want to help ensure the resilience of our partners who serve such diverse student populations.”

Indeed, the Mount has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. About 90% of traditional-aged undergraduate students are women of color — 85% if including undergraduates from the Weekend and Evening College — and roughly half are first-generation college students. More than 60% of our traditional undergraduates meet the established level of greatest financial need according to the federal guidelines for Pell Grants.

Nevertheless, the educational experiences that the University provides, aided by generous donors, has enabled the Mount to be awarded the No. 1 ranking for social mobility among the western region two years in a row from U.S. News & World Report.

The foundation’s gift supplemented the University’s own financial aid efforts, in addition to support provided through the federal CARES Act, which has helped Mount Saint Mary’s to provide some relief to students with emergency needs such as food, housing and healthcare expenses.

The Mount continues to seek additional funds to help students access the technologies and tools they need for remote learning, such as loaner laptops, WiFi hotspots and other equipment and software. An April survey with 945 respondents showed that 403 did not have reliable Internet, 102 did not have a consistent access to a computer and 66 lacked necessary software.