Robust Support Helps Students Meet COVID-19 Challenges
December 18, 2020
Yvette Tejeda was completing her freshman year this past spring at Northeast Lakeview College, one of the Alamo Colleges, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. She and her fellow 65,000 students successfully transitioned to remote learning for the rest of this year. The stepmother of two daughters, Tejeda works full time and takes classes at night, with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. She is the first in her family to attend college and plans to transfer to a university to complete her bachelor’s.
Tejeda says she was worried about how she would juggle all her responsibilities and financial needs because of the pandemic, but thanks to emergency aid from the Alamo Colleges, she was able to get the money she needed for her rent, utilities and Internet service and will be able to stay on track to graduate. Tejeda credits the “amazing support” and the “great support system” at NLC and across the district for making it possible for her to stay in college. She received funds from the CARES Act and the Alamo Colleges Foundation Student Impact Fund (SIF), as well as support and referrals to other services from NLC’s Advocacy Center.
Realizing that students have many needs, especially this year, outside of their academic work, the Alamo Colleges made sure these needs were met, ramping up its support services to provide a total of nearly $22 million in emergency aid. Tejeda is one of many Alamo Colleges’ students helped by funds from the multi-targeted package of student emergency aid put in place soon after the pandemic began. This included the federal CARES Act, the SIF and the district’s Keep Learning Plan. The CARES Act provided the largest amount of funds, with 17,654 students receiving more than $11.3 million in assistance.
Students who were not eligible for CARES Act funds received help through the SIF, and the Foster Youth Fund and City of San Antonio Homeless Youth Fund. Since March, 279 students were awarded more than $173,000 through these programs, with 133 students receiving $63,000 through the SIF. Students who received emergency aid were, like Tejeda, primarily Hispanic, female and students continuing from Fall 2019 in Spring 2020.
Tejeda and other students also benefitted from $10 million in aid provided by the Alamo Colleges Keep Learning Plan, which included $1 payment plans and loaner laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots. Over 3,000 laptops and 1,500 hotspots were distributed to students.
Alamo Colleges also provided Advocacy Services to meet a wide range of basic life needs. Advocacy Centers at each of the colleges include food pantries, mental health counseling, financial literacy help and emergency assistance. The district set up an Advocacy Helpline to help students fill out applications for emergency aid and to refer them for wraparound case management, counseling appointments and community resources. Since March, there have been 6,896 calls to the Advocacy Helpline. Requests for food and housing aid increased by more than 40% since COVID-19 began.
To address food insecurity, which affects more than 40% of Alamo Colleges’ students and impacted even more due to COVID-19, the district and the San Antonio Food Bank launched Pop-Up Markets from June through December. A total of 10,412 households were served, including 1,494 ACD students and employees; 287,196 lbs. of food was distributed. Weekly Pop-Up Markets are scheduled at all five of the Alamo Colleges and the Eastside Education and Training Center during the Spring 2021 semester.
Student emergency aid continues to be available to Alamo Colleges Students for 2021. This reflects the district’s unswerving commitment to keeping it students in college and on-track to earn a degree or certificate that will lead to economic and social mobility and move us forward toward our goal of partnering to end poverty in San Antonio through education. A student with an associate degree earns on average $9,400 more each year in Texas than students with only a high school diploma or GED. A new partnership with UT Health San Antonio’s Wellness 360 was established to provide virtual and, when it becomes possible, in-person access to basic healthcare for students, even if they have no health insurance.
For more information on student emergency aid and special programs, go to www.alamo.edu/returntocampus/student-resources/
To help the Alamo Colleges continue to support students, go to www.alamo.edu/foundation