The Singapore Management University (SMU) announced the establishment of a new SMU Resilience Fund to help students who are facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The $2.5 million Fund comprises three coordinated components – SMU CARES (comprising funds from the University’s own resources), SMU GIVES (made up of contributions from the SMU Community), and SMU HELPS (assistance supported by donors).

Professor Lily Kong, SMU President, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, affecting diverse groups in Singapore.  We recognise that there are students who are facing financial hardship – some have family members whose livelihoods have been affected, some students themselves may have lost their part-time income.  The SMU Resilience Fund illustrates a whole-of-University effort as we stand in solidarity in our response to the pandemic.”

“In these challenging times, the well-being of our students remains our top priority.  With our collective effort, I am certain we will be able to extend more help to more students, to ensure that their University education is not derailed or disrupted.  Many alumni, faculty and staff members have come forward to offer their contributions; we are grateful for the support we have received thus far,” she added.

SMU CARES

Under SMU CARES, the University is deploying its own resources to provide immediate help for students affected by COVID-19.

As a relief to undergraduates in need of financial help during this difficult period, the Undergraduate Supplementary Assistance Plan has been established to help undergraduates whose gross monthly household per capita income does not exceed $500 and whose family members’ livelihoods are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  The Plan aims to assist up to 1,000 undergraduates with a one-off $500 grant each.  Repayment is not required for this grant, and it may be given in addition to regular scholarship, bursaries and/or study awards.  More details can be found here.

The Global Exposure Contingency Fund (renamed from SMU Financial Assistance Scheme) was set up in early April 2020 to help defray the financial costs of those undergraduates who were affected due the cancellation of overseas programmes and the recall to Singapore.  University funds have been set aside to help undergraduates and postgraduates who are unable to recover expenses associated with air tickets, accommodation, local transport, mobile/data plans, visa/entry fees associated with the recall/cancellation, as well as to cover alternative accommodation for serving Stay Home Notice requirements in Singapore.  More details can be found here.

SMU GIVES

SMU GIVES is a platform that allows the SMU Community – comprising faculty, staff and alumni – to come together and contribute to the SMU Resilience Fund through various ongoing and forthcoming initiatives.  Funds collected will primarily be channelled into bursaries for full-time undergraduates from financially challenged families at SMU, and an emergency fund available to postgraduates in need of immediate assistance.

Fund-raising efforts among the University’s faculty and staff are on-going.  The Alumni Committee for the SMU Alumni Community Fund has also allocated a sum of $168,000 since the start of the outbreak, to support undergraduates impacted by the pandemic.  This amount continues to grow.  In addition to actively approaching employers to facilitate permanent and contract employment opportunities, the SMU Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre is also reaching out to SMU alumni on offering traineeship and employment.

To boost further contributions from the SMU Community, the University will be launching several initiatives in the coming weeks and months to help its undergraduates.  They include:

  • Launch of SMU Imagine Better coffee-table book on 30 May. The book celebrates more than 100 alumni who have made a difference through their work or personal/social causes.  With a minimum donation of S$50, donors will receive a limited edition of the book.
  • SMOO Challenge, to be launched on 1 July, will bring the SMU community together as ‘One SMU’ through a virtual race on a platform powered by one of its alumni businesses, while doing good at the same time.
  • The Wishing Tree project, which anchors on the Bodhi Tree standing on SMU’s Campus Green and representing respect for the University’s past and a yearning for a better future, will be launched on 1 July.  A virtual Wishing Tree will come alive for members of the SMU Community to pen well wishes and kind thoughts to the University and to each other, as well as to contribute to bursaries to support financially challenged students in their educational pursuits.

SMU HELPS

As part of the broader Imagine Better Giving Campaign led by the University’s Office of Advancement, SMU HELPS demonstrates putting ‘imagination to action’ by leveraging new and existing gifts from its donors to support COVID-19 responses.

Existing Emergency Grants are readily accessible to undergraduates in need of urgent financial aid.  Ranging from $500 to $5,000 each, affected students can apply for these grants, made possible by contributions from the University’s donors.  They include: Collaboration (同心清诚) Special GrantDr Ernest Kan Care GrantJoe Grimberg Emergency GrantKwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Emergency GrantMr & Mrs Kho Man Kai Emergency Grant; SMU School of Accountancy Care FundSMU Student Life Financial Grant; and LKCSB Students’ Fund Emergency Grant.

SMU Law Academy has also launched a COVID-19 Seminar Series targeted at the legal profession, which will help raise funds to support law students who have been affected by the pandemic.  The first webinar held on 30 April raised $50,000 from the legal fraternity; two more webinars are scheduled to take place this month.

The University continues to pursue ongoing conversations with donors – individuals, foundations and industry.  Their continued generous support will further boost the range of financial assistance available to affected students in the coming months.

Affected students can enquire with the Centre for Student Financial Assistance ([email protected]), and will be advised on the most suitable financial aid based on their circumstances and needs.

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