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DU’s SAFE Fund helps students with unmet financial needs

150th anniversary gala featuring Patti LaBelle on May 11 to serve as fundraiser

By Taiyler Mitchell
On April 12, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (April 12, 2019) – For graduating mass communication senior Temitayo Odulaja, Dillard’s SAFE Fund was a financial blessing when he came up short in funds for school – twice.

Odulaja, an honor student originally from Nigeria, said he found it difficult as an international student to come up with additional financial assistance when he ran short.

 “[The SAFE Fund] was really beneficial for me,” he said. “I hope that those individuals perpetuate this thing that they started for students who can’t afford it – for students that are foreigners, for students whose financial circumstances are not up to par.”

Odulaja was one of 178 recipients this school year of the Student Assistance for Emergencies (SAFE) Fund.

As part of Dillard’s 150th anniversary celebration, a gala featuring Grammy Award-winning singer Patti LaBelle will serve as a fundraiser to benefit the SAFE fund. Tickets for the May 11 event at the Hyatt Regency are $250 per person.

The SAFE Fund is a resource for DU students in need of immediate financial attention. Established in 2013 by Dr. Walter Kimbrough, university president, the SAFE Fund is exactly what it sounds like: an extra layer of protection for those students who are on the verge on dropping out because they can’t pay their outstanding balances. It is the goal of the SAFE Fund to bridge the gap for students in need of a little extra financial assistance.

David Page, vice president for Enrollment Management said since the 2014-15 school year, In 1,064 students have received an award, and $1.8 million has been raised. This school year alone, he said, some $409,162 has been awarded.

Kimbrough recalled how the fund got started.

 “Before I got here,” he said, “Dillard did a research study about why some students don’t come back – and it wasn’t because of their grades [or] their academic credentials. It was the amount of unmet financial need.”

He recalled how Georgia State University had a similar program, called the Panther Retention Grants, and so he created a similar fund at DU.

To be considered, a student must complete an application, demonstrate financial need and hold at least a 2.0 GPA. The application calls for the awardee to attend an approved on-campus event (such as the Brain Food lecture series) paired with the completion of approved sessions, such as tutoring or college fair.

The fall application deadline is Nov. 1 and the spring deadline is April 1; funds are typically awarded on a rolling basis.

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