Crisis Grants a Difference-Maker for Carl Sandburg College Students in Need

  Aaron Frey
  Monday, May 4, 2020 9:53 AM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

Ashley Allen opened her mail and received a surprise that kept her from having to make a difficult choice.

Allen had been awarded a $500 crisis grant from the Carl Sandburg College Foundation. Rather than having to decide between making her car payment and paying tuition toward earning her nursing degree at Sandburg, she had the peace of mind of being able to pay for both.

“I had my money that was going to go toward certain bills, and I was going to just give it up and put it toward my tuition and books because it's my end goal,” Allen said. “So when I got the crisis grant, it was like, Oh my gosh, I can still pay the bills that I was going to tell them they have to wait on.”

The Sandburg Foundation’s crisis grant program assists students with expenses that would otherwise hinder their ability to continue their education at Sandburg. The program is typically geared toward non-academic, non-recurring funds such as medical bills and car emergencies, but with many students facing economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has been expanded to all emergency needs. Students can apply at in order to be eligible for crisis grants, ranging from $50-$500.

The response has been overwhelming. Sixty applications were submitted within the first day of the expanded availability, and the Foundation received $20,000 in requests for crisis grants in less than a month. Needs have included assistance with paying for childcare, prescriptions, technology, tuition, medical care, internet access, rent and helping students who are unemployed.

Now the Foundation wants to expand the pool of funding available to those students in need. In addition to receiving federal dollars and a $5,000 gift from the Galesburg Community Foundation’s Rapid Response Fund to be used toward crisis grants, the Sandburg Foundation has set a goal of raising $50,000 in supplemental funding.

“We’ve already seen from our students that there is a serious need for these grants,” Director of Advancement Emily Webel said. “There’s so much uncertainty in people’s everyday lives because of the coronavirus, which is why we’re asking others to step up and support these students during this critical time. Donating to this cause is directly helping students who wouldn’t be able to continue their education, and many of the people receiving these grants are studying to become essential workers or already are now.”

Fifty-seven percent of nurses in the United States began their education at a community college like Sandburg. That’s the case for Allen, who graduated from Sandburg’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program in 2018 and is now studying to become a registered nurse. She works at Knox County Nursing Home and always knew she wanted to go into the medical field because she loves helping people.

“I do a 12-hour shift because I'm there for my residents, and then I come home and do schoolwork. That's my life,” Allen said. “I was so excited because right now I have to do 12-hour shifts — on top of going to school — just to pay off my bills. With this crisis grant, it's really helped me. That changed everything for me.” 

To donate, fill out an online form on, or contact the Carl Sandburg College Foundation at 309.341.5349 or to set up your payment.

“To be honest, it really does mean everything,” Allen said. “I don't get a lot of grants or scholarships, so the fact that I actually got a grant, I was shocked and so happy, because that money goes to what it's intended to do.”

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Aaron Frey