Harper's COVID-19 relief fund allowing students to keep focus on studies
Since her father recently lost his job, Esmeralda Zamora has been using her earnings as a retail cashier help pay her family's rent, utilities and groceries.
"We're kind of just pushing through right now, making the best of the situation," said Zamora, 20, of Carpentersville.
She's getting help in making the best of it through Harper College's Student Emergency Relief Fund. Zamora, who is studying forensic science and plans to transfer this fall to Roosevelt University's criminal justice program at Harper College's University Center, is among 554 students at the Palatine school receiving assistance through the emergency fund.
She said she can focus more on her coursework with the financial help.
Harper has launched several initiatives to support students' basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately is affecting low-income and minority communities. The emergency fund has received more than $245,000 in donations from roughly 350 people, the Harper College Educational Foundation and the college's funds.
Of the students receiving aid, 66% are first-generation college students. Harper officials said 35% are white, 32% are Hispanics 17% are Asians and 8% are black.
Officials expect the need to grow as nearly three-fourths of Harper students work while attending classes and many are dealing with reduced hours or job loss. To help those in need, visit harpercollege.edu/foundation.
Harper's technology loan program is providing Chromebooks, graphic calculators and internet hot spots to students in need, and the college has awarded up to $1,000 in Finish Line Grants totaling about $125,000 to 140 students nearing college completion.