Help Pomona students impacted by COVID-19

We are accepting final donations to fully account for our total expenses, shown here . 

This Emergency Fund has been an essential, stop-gap resource for 1 in every 13 students attending Pomona. As a communal resource, we make our financials publicly available and explain where donations go here . All donations made by May 20th ($123,896) on our GoFundMe and Venmo (@POM-COVID19-1), have been allocated. 

Official Website for Chirp It Forward - 4 Things to do in 7 Minutes

On that same day, we launched #CHIRPITFORWARD, the summer-oriented version of our fundraising campaign. Watch our campaign video here featuring Pomona students. This campaign ends on May 31st, and focuses on supporting the many students who have been severely displaced and/or financially de-stabilized by the onslaught of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the campaign,we have been updating our GoFundMe page to reflect students’ continued need for financial and housing support throughout the summer. The goal for the summer is to raise $125,000. However, the final amount on this GoFundMe reflects both our spring semester and summer campaigns, which brings the sum total to $170,000. We have already allocated all the donations we received before May 20  to students who requested assistance (see below for updates). Therefore, the progress bar on our campaign does not reflect the funds that are currently in our possession; our fundraising needs are still ongoing. Thank you so much for your ongoing support of students that are displaced, de-stabilized, and in need of financial assistance. 

Occupy Pomona conducted an open survey to gauge students’ predictable needs for the summer, and found that many Pomona students are in dire need of more financial and housing support than was provided by the College. We are asking for your help in giving direct, timely assistance to Pomona College students. Your contributions are distributed in the form of need-based grants to students who are facing hardships such as housing and/or food insecurity, unexpected medical bills, providing for family members and loved ones, loss of income, unemployment, mental and physical health, and restricted accommodations.


Who we are
We are a coalition of Pomona College students, dedicated to ensuring that our College's marginalized and vulnerable student needs are recognized and that no student is left to navigate the difficulties of surviving COVID-19 alone. Occupy Pomona’s Financing Committee are responsible for deliberating and voting on student requests, as well as other administrative tasks. We are first-generation, low-income, BIPOC, undocumented, queer, international, and/or homeless students, as well as students impacted by domestic violence and abuse. 


Background 
Pomona College student organizers originally came together as Occupy Pomona just hours after the College notified hundreds of students that their petitions to remain on campus had been denied. These students were required to move off campus in four days –– without any communication on how the College would support them if they had no viable place to live. This left many students facing homelessness, especially first-generation, low-income, and international, as well as survivors of domestic violence. We set out to support these students with our initial campaign, which was intended to provide financial assistance to students for the remainder of the academic semester. Thanks to your support, and the support of many generous donors, we were able to meet the needs of students for the remainder of Spring 2020. 


On Thursday April 23rd, 2020, Pomona College informed the students who had secured on-campus housing in Oldenborg Hall that, during the second half of the semester, they were required to leave campus by 4pm on May 18th, 2020. Although the College is making some concessions to these 98 students, these concessions are limited and inadequate, as well as inaccessible to students who were forced to seek off-campus housing. The students who have been relocated off campus had their sources of income exhausted by living expenses during the semester and now face housing and food insecurity as the summer looms. 


The concession that Pomona made for students who resided on-campus was as follows: a $2,500 award through the 5-week Remote Alternative Independent Summer Experience (RAISE) program, $1,700 of which will go towards off-campus housing. Students are expected to pay this $1,700 for the off-campus housing that Pomona provides regardless of whether they are awarded RAISE. Therefore, should students receive the RAISE award, they will only have $800 for non-housing expenses, such as food and utilities, for the summer. In addition, graduating seniors are not eligible for RAISE, and were offered two options: they can either request travel assistance from the College or receive a $400 check should they decide to transition to off campus housing. 


Although students living off campus can also apply to the RAISE program, there is no certainty that they will receive the grant. Therefore, the maximum amount of financial assistance that a student may receive from Pomona College at this time is $2,500, measurably less than the $4,500 that would have been provided to students through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), which RAISE is replacing. The RAISE funds will be insufficient to cover the summer expenses of students who are already experiencing financial vulnerability due to COVID-19 in the form of housing insecurity, health-related expenses, unemployment, and being their families’ primary breadwinners.


How did we determine our goal for fundraising? Why do we need $170,000?
Occupy Pomona conducted a survey to gauge student needs for the summer. Out of the students who took the survey, 66.7% were not on campus, of which 54.5% do not have guaranteed housing. 74.2% of the students who took the survey do not have a job or any source of income for the summer, and only 10% feel that it may be possible to obtain a job outside of the possibility of getting RAISE/PCIP grants. An average student will have expenses totaling approximately $3,000 for the summer; yet there are various students who are primary providers for their families and thus have greater need. Based on the demonstrated need from this survey, we project that a budget of $170,000 will fully meet the needs of the students who requested assistance during the summer. These needs include rent, food, transportation, utilities, wifi, assistance for family bills, including medical bills for medication for pre-existing conditions, mental health services, and supporting family impacted by COVID-19. As the full consequences of COVID-19 continue to unfold, we are organizing this campaign to be able to meet current and impending needs of Pomona College students to stand in solidarity with members of our community who are most at risk.


How Were Previous Funds Used?
The funds that we raised prior to May 20th have all gone towards funding students' essential needs for the semester and summer, including food, housing, utilities and other necessary expenses. We have allocated $123 896.25 towards 177 approved requests. The graph below shows the allocation of our total funds, including donations after May 28th onto this GoFundMe and our Venmo, as of May 28th:

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A detailed explanation of our funds can be found on this information sheet

For summer expenses, our finance committee was in charge of allocating the remaining funds as well as additional finances from fundraising which totaled to $62,800 to be dispersed among the 84 students that applied. Students submitted anonymized requests and no applications We aimed to be as equitable as possible and divided funding allocations into 5 tiers. Based on the number of applicants in each tier, we determined how much to allocate to each tier proportionally and based on demonstrated need from the summer stipend application form. We opened up the GoFundMe campaign for summer interest in hopes to assist in subsidizing costs but we did not have the full financial capacity to cover summer expenses completely.


Philosophies Guiding the Fund 
We ask members of our community to read through the following guidelines regarding the use and maintenance of the Emergency Fund:

1. The fund is a communal resource for students experiencing financial insecurity  to meet varied and unpredictable needs during COVID-19 throughout the summer, pooled together by over 900 community members. The volunteer team’s role in the fund is to place these funds directly into the hands of students in need.

2. Decision-making power about our fund is shared as much as possible. Impacted students are in the best position to evaluate their needs. The volunteer team distributes information about their process widely across our community so that students can make informed decisions concerning themselves and others. 

3. The funds are going to be distributed on a case-by-case basis, wherein students will indicate their levels of need according to the tier system and be provided with the funds accordingly. The volunteer team is not concerned with maintaining the longevity of the fund; it is the responsibility of the community to consider our long-term well-being when requesting funds. The volunteer team wants to support as many students  as possible using the fund. 

4. We refuse to adhere to mechanisms of control that operate through surveillance and penalty, and instead rely on mutual trust, accountability, and collective care so that our funds can reach those with the highest levels of need. The volunteer team limits the collection of personal data to cases where it is required for legal procedures and commits to explaining why we are collecting information. 

5. We acknowledge that forms of institutional support often fail to understand and meet the needs of students experiencing poverty, housing insecurity, and other forms of risk, and that’s where our emergency fund comes in. We work with Pomona College intentionally, and ask that students have the College cover their expenses when they can, to the extent that their support is in the service of students.  

6. The volunteers fully understand the public scrutiny placed on them as student representatives of Pomona College and strive to uphold accountability and transparency to the highest standard while protecting the interests of impacted students.


Timeline
March 11th - Students receive an email that they are not to return to campus after spring break due to public health recommendations. 

March 13th - The majority of 370 petitions to stay on campus are denied, and students are threatened with fines of up to $100 per diem, and firing from their on-campus jobs by Wednesday, March 18th at 5 p.m. There is no information on how the College will support displaced students to live off-campus, despite many students lacking a home to return to. 

March 14th - Occupy Pomona releases an open letter objecting to the College’s Coronavirus response. This fundraiser is started to cover essential needs of students evicted from Pomona College, and we open four new Venmo accounts: POM-COVID19-1, POM-COVID19-2, POM-COVID19-3, and POM-COVID19-4. 

March 15th - Short-term emergency grants from the campaign are made available for Pomona students, and the first grant is transferred through Venmo. It becomes more known among students that the College is providing a $250 flat grant to all students who request it from Dean Avis Hinkson for covering general expenses. 

March 19th - Long-term emergency grants and the Emergency Fund FAQ are made available. Organizers also released an open letter  demanding that accessibility be made a concern when choosing which dorm building to house students in during campus closure. Starting this date, long-term grants are considered for a budget of one month as students wait for further announcement from the College about their Room and Board refund. 

March 20th - A day after California issues a shelter-at-home order, President Gabi Starr announces that all students remaining on campus will be allowed to stay through the end of the semester. 

March 23rd - Students who moved off-campus before March 20th have a credit posted to their student accounts that is 50% of their Room and Board expense for the semester, subtracted by their existing balance. The next day, the Credit Balance Refund form  is made available for students who have moved off-campus to directly access their refund by check or direct deposit, earliest by the first week of April. As of this date, long-term grants are still considered for a budget of one month because students are still uncertain when exactly they can directly access their refund. 

April 23rd- The 98 students residing in the Oldenborg Residence Hall receive an email from the Dean of Students that they will be expected to leave campus by 4 pm, Monday May 18th. 

May 16th- Summer stipend application form closes and applicants are notified within the week regarding how much Occupy can grant them in funding.

May 20th- We allocated the entire remainder from the GoFundMe to 85 students for summer stipends–– $123,400 donations allocated.

May 31st- The final summer stipends are sent to students at the closing of #CHIRPITFORWARD. 


Tiered Donation System
We know that we are asking for a large sum of money and want to be as transparent as possible about where the funds will go. Below is how we plan to disperse the funds to the students in need. The total accumulated goal of $170,000 will be distributed to students of need based on their tier. Please note that we know that students' needs and concerns cannot be consolidated to tiers but want to maximize how the funds are used and accommodate the student's situation as much as possible. The tiers are flexible and are subject to change which will be monitored in our sheets.

Level 1 Need
➢ I have a home to return to with parents or loved ones who can support me, but I do not have enough money to pay for short-term expenses, such as travel. Above all else, I need immediate, short-term financial relief. I have a source of income for the summer, either Pomona based (RAISE/PCIP/Pomona remote job) or otherwise. 
➢ I am staying in Pomona provided summer housing but still need funds to sustain myself.
➢I have housing(maybe not at home) and can pay rent but still need funds to sustain myself. (groceries, utilities, etc.) 

Level 2 Need -
➢ I send money home from on-campus jobs to help support my family. I live in an area with job opportunities or have access to remote work. If I am living away from my family, I am able to use savings to support my summer expenses. For the short-term, I need steady monetary support to pay recurring bills such as utilities and rent and grocery costs. I have a source of income for the summer, either Pomona based (RAISE/PCIP/Pomona remote job) or otherwise. 

Level 3 Need
➢ I live in an area or work in an industry with little to no job opportunities and do not have access to remote work. My financial burdens are recurring bills and the cost of living for myself. I am unable to return home, but luckily, I am healthy and not primarily responsible for the safety of my family members and loved ones. I am able to use the received a Room and Board refund from Pomona to assist with summer housing. 

Level 4 need
➢ I work in an industry that has no job opportunities during the pandemic or has a widespread hiring freeze. 
➢ I am a significant provider for my family and make the most out of members of my family. 
➢My family’s financial uncertainty has been severely impacted by the pandemic. 

Level 5 need
➢ I am the sole breadwinner of my family. My parents do not have a job currently due to COVID-19. 
➢ In addition to paying recurring bills such as rent, groceries, and utilities, my family has significant outstanding bills that I must support. 
➢ I am not eligible for any other types of institutional funding such as stimulus checks, face structural barriers to gaining employment, and could not get sufficient or any funding from Pomona.

Fund Allocation Process 
1.A student requests funding from our summer form which was released on May 15th and the deadline for submissions will be on May 17th. 

2. The request was completely anonymized by a volunteer whose role required them to identify the person who submitted the request(i.e., transactions, direct contact). 

3. The Occupy Pomona summer finance committee individually read each application and voted before the campaign as a larger group to discuss each application to ensure that each student’s needs are read and met, as equitably as possible. 

4. With the help of ASPC (to systematize disbursements through the Pomona College Finance Office) funds will be distributed through an ACH transfer or by having a check mailed to the students.

Fund Management Structure 
All of the donations in this GoFundMe have been withdrawn directly into an organizational account registered by Occupy Pomona with the Associated Students of Pomona College  (ASPC). ASPC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit representing the student government at Pomona College, and conducts financial transactions for student organizations. The funds will be distributed from our organizational account to individual students as an ACH transfer or a reimbursement procedure at a time communicated with the student, through a same-day transfer if necessary. Transactions will be recorded by volunteers and staff at Occupy Pomona and ASPC, and ultimately processed by the ASPC’s Staff Accountant. 

In the past, the beneficiary of the GoFundMe has appeared as Pomona FLI Scholars, or Professor Maryan Soliman of Scripps College, who is a trusted faculty member teaching in a fellow member institution of the Claremont Colleges. We had made these temporary arrangements as we clarified the tax and legal implications of our fund, and ultimately chose to open our own organizational account with ASPC. To be clear, neither Professor Soliman nor the organizers at Occupy Pomona have received any funds from this campaign as a result of their involvement. 

Important Links 
Linktree  has links to all resources, articles, and forms related to Occupy Pomona. 

List of resources  is a one-stop document for Pomona students navigating COVID-19.

Follow Occupy Pomona on Twitter or Instagram.

Remote Alternative Independent Summer Experience Program (RAISE ) FAQ's:
https://www.pomona.edu/administration/academic-dean/student-research/raise/faqs

Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) FAQ's:
https://www.pomona.edu/administration/career-development/job-internship-search/pcip/summer-experience-international-domestic

Extra links:
FGLI Wesleyan Student Donations Spreadsheet 
Wesleyan GoFundMe Description 
GFM Update Main Description 
How Have Donations Been Allocated 
Original Occupy GoFundMe 

Contact 
If you have any questions, concerns, or contributions, please email [email redacted]

Follow Occupy Pomona on Twitter or Instagram .

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Organizer and beneficiary

Pomona FLI Scholars 
Organizer
Claremont, CA
Associated Students of Pomona College 
Beneficiary
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