Iowa university foundations raising money for coronavirus-affected students

Money will help with food, housing, education

The Iowa State University Foundation building is shown Thursday, March 23, 2006, on the Elwood Drive in Ames, Iowa. (AP
The Iowa State University Foundation building is shown Thursday, March 23, 2006, on the Elwood Drive in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ames Tribune, Nirmalendu Majumdar)

IOWA CITY — The fundraising arms for all three of Iowa’s public universities have established or are promoting “emergency assistance funds” for students in their communities affected by COVID-19.

“Even under normal circumstances, students may live close to the edge financially,” a description of the Iowa State University Foundation’s Cyclone Strong Fund says. “For some, not only is this new challenge overwhelming, it may mean falling short in completing an Iowa State education — or simply meeting everyday needs.”

The University of Northern Iowa Foundation and University of Iowa Center for Advancement are promoting similar COVID-19-specific fundraisers for students, who last week learned they won’t be allowed to return to campus this spring and instead must complete their courses virtually.

That shift means students who previously thought they’d be allowed to stay in the residence halls must move out. Those changes, for some, have meant finding new housing, acquiring adequate technology, incurring unexpected travel and leaving behind their jobs.

“The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority,” says the UI Center for Advancement’s description of its Student Life Emergency Fund.

UI students interested in accessing the fund may apply through the Dean of Students Office with an application that asks about how much they need and why, whether they are receiving financial aid and what other funding sources they’ve sought. The UI application also seeks details of how the applicants would use the money, whether they were employed and how the money could impact their ability to remain enrolled.

ISU and UNI students started back at class Monday after spring break — albeit virtually. UI students last week learned they will have an extra week of break to allow the campus more time to transition online.


According to the ISU Foundation, its Cyclone Strong Fund will — among other things — help students pay their bills and buy groceries; support a campus food pantry; and offer aid through ISU Student Counseling Services.

The fund also could help ISU students who were studying abroad and had to return. And it could help pay for rented laptops and other technology students need for their virtual education.

The UNI Foundation has broken its COVID-19 fundraising into three parts — a student emergency fund; the Panther Pantry, providing food for students in need; and a scholarship fund.

As of Monday afternoon, the fundraisers had generated thousands, including more than $6,000 at UNI and over $5,000 for the UI.

Find the funds here


UI: Life Emergency Fund:


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