San Marcos,
17:23 PM

Employees Provide Critical Safety Net for Students in Need

By Christine Vaughan

Financial hardship is overwhelmingly one of the most common reasons a college student places their education on hold. But thanks to the generosity of Cal State San Marcos employees who called “dibs,” an unexpected expense doesn’t have to derail dreams.

Last month, a record 112 employees raised $10,306 during the university’s month-long “Dibs” campaign, providing a critical safety net for students in need through the ASI Student Emergency Fund.

“One thing, above all else, unites us in our mission every day at Cal State San Marcos: our incredible students,” said Sean Briner, director of annual giving programs. “Employees work hard every day to serve, empower and inspire our students because they understand the transformative power of an education.”

Annual Giving first introduced its dibs theme two years ago, inviting employees to temporarily name a campus landmark for 15 days in support of the ASI Student Emergency Fund. Each year, the employee giving campaign, which occurs in September, focuses on growing a culture of philanthropy among employees while addressing a critical student need on campus.

While the concept of a dibs-style campaign isn’t exclusive to CSUSM, the university received high praise from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2019 for its fresh and inspiring approach to solving a critical funding gap.

“We knew this year that the need would be greater than ever before,” Briner said.

Requests for aid from the ASI Student Emergency Fund has skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic, experiencing a 700% increase since March. While demand spiked with a 700% increase at the beginning of the pandemic, the fund is still seeing a 65% increase compared to last year. The ASI Student Emergency Fund provides critical aid for students experiencing sudden job loss, underemployment, unexpected expenses, housing disruptions, and increases in utility and medical bills.

“I am very grateful for the generosity of those who gave,” said one student in an email to the Cougar Care Network, which partners with ASI in serving students in need. “The Student Emergency Fund relieved a little bit of stress this month and allowed me to focus better on my studies.”

In addition to employee participation increasing 81% over last year, total giving more than doubled.

“Being able to serve more students amid a pandemic reveals the true heart of our incredible employees,” Briner said. “In a student’s moment of need, our employees answer the call and show once again that we truly are in this together.”