It is my hope this message finds you well and focusing your energies on the health and well-being of yourselves and your families as the coronavirus outbreak continues to slow public life considerably, and threaten the health of all our communities. In these rapidly-evolving times that are disrupting the lives of college students everywhere and challenging our higher education system in unprecedented ways, we wanted to update you on what actions the Partnership is taking and the resources we are developing in light of this situation.
Since the cancellation of the Spring 2020 ILEA Summit and the first meeting of the PCC/Aspen Equity Academy for Presidents and Cabinets, we’ve been working closely with our ILEA partners to understand their students’ academic and non-academic needs as they’ve arisen during this crisis and how PCC can support institutions in addressing these. By next week, we will have compiled a list of needs organized by themes to share with the Board and other supporters interested in helping our institutions of higher education help our students. And in the coming days, we’ll be sharing a list of resources related to online teaching, open-access resources, supporting students digitally, and other staff and faculty support resources with our partner institutions. Similarly, we are connecting with our Student Advisory Committee members to ascertain their concerns and provide support as needs are identified.
With the legislative session canceled this week and a truncated session expected, movement on our legislative agenda has been put on hold but our fight for necessary resources and supports for underrepresented students has not stopped. During a call we are hosting this week with higher education advocates and college access and success organizations, we will discuss what we’re hearing from students, institutions, and crowdsourced resources, in order to brainstorm a coordinated response. Similarly, we are working closely with our partners in the state legislature to ensure any state response considers the unique hardship of our state’s most vulnerable students. A memo with our recommendations will be shared in the near future. Further, through social media, we will ask our network to support both S. 3489, the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act, a federal bill that would allocate $1.2 billion over the next two years to college students in financial need and HB 5262, the appropriations bill Representative Smith introduced seeking a state appropriation to create and expand emergency grant programs in Illinois.
Finally, as the PCC team responds to the disruption created by the pandemic with information and recommendations for our stakeholders, we would be remiss to not be responsive to student needs as they arise now. Our communications team is leveraging our social channels to highlight resources stateside and nationwide – in financial assistance, internet access, educational materials and more – that may be of support to students seeking assistance. Resources are posted on PCC’s Twitter account, and the full and regularly updated list can be found here.
As PCC learns more from the organizations and practitioners who are closest to students and receives updates from Springfield, we will continue to share the latest developments and provide an open feedback loop so that you can help us navigate this unprecedented time.
Thank you for your continued support.