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$35,000 donation will aid Spokane community college students impacted by COVID-19

UPDATED: Tue., April 14, 2020

Spokane Community College photographed on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Community College photographed on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A $35,000 donation will provide emergency assistance to community college students in Spokane who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A business owner who prefers to remain anonymous donated the money to the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The money will go into a fund called Project Finish Line, which the foundation’s board created in March with a starting amount of $30,000.

The fund provides grants of up to $1,000 to students at Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College who have lost jobs or economic stability due to the pandemic.

Students can use that money for essential needs, such as housing and food, said Leah Butterwick, the foundation’s grants and communications coordinator. The goal is to prevent them from dropping out of college due to COVID-19.

“It would be a tragedy if students were derailed from their educational goals by this pandemic,” Sharon Robertson, the foundation’s donor relations manager, said in a statement. “For many, there may not be a second chance at a better life through education.”

The foundation said in 2019 it provided about $109,000 in emergency aid to students, $335,000 in scholarships and $659,000 in funding for programs at the two community colleges.

Butterwick said the foundation has received about seven times the usual number of student requests for support during the past several weeks. Hundreds of students have used college programs that loan computers and other technology. Butterwick said SFCC had about 75 laptops available, and all have been borrowed.

Donations to the foundation can be made online.

Assistance programs have sprung up at other schools because of the pandemic. In Pullman, the Associated Students of Washington State University is offering students up to $25 a week to help pay for groceries and hygiene products.

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