stay strong blue hen | UDaily – UDaily | Team Cansler

Photo illustration by Jessica Collins

The Blue Hen Strong Fund is stronger than ever.

The Blue Hen Strong Fund was created in 2020 to address the needs of University of Delaware students arising from the coronavirus pandemic and has since grown into an evergreen source of support as priorities for Change student resources and program shift. It has maintained incredible momentum, with 9,500 donors contributing more than $1.2 million to date.

Over the past two years, the fund has helped support emergency tuition and housing benefits, a laptop loan program, mentorship programs and internship grants. Today, the Blue Hen Strong Fund provides support for new initiatives including a first-generation mentoring program and a basic needs pantry.

Ensuring the academic success of the first generation

The First Generation Mentoring Program, supported by Blue Hen Strong Fund donors, matches new incoming students who are first generation students with returning first generation UD colleagues to help them better navigate their academic journey to master, develop a sense of belonging on campus and succeed in university and post-graduate studies. The program started in the fall of 2022 with a pilot phase cohort of 100 students who are the first in their families to attend college.

“First-generation students are increasing in numbers, and there is a growing need to help students navigate their way, especially in the wake of a pandemic,” said Stephanie Chang, associate vice president of institutional justice for student life. “This program helps foster social connections and peer-to-peer engagement. Building communities is key to academic and professional success.”

This semester, more than 2,500 first-generation Blue Hens are enrolled in undergraduate studies on the Newark campus. As students whose parents or guardians have not attended or graduated from a four-year institution, first-generation students may have difficulty adjusting and navigating the college environment. This experience may be isolating, but the first generation mentoring program is designed to be inclusive and supportive.

The program matches students with mentors based on their academic major, their interests on campus, or their individual identity and experience. Mentors can help identify and connect mentees with departments and services on campus, including academic counseling and tutoring.

“As a first-generation student, I always turn to others to ask questions,” said Olivia Chowdhury, senior and vice president of We’re First, a UD-registered student organization for first-generation students. “This program provides students with an opportunity to more easily access support and get the resources they need on campus.”

Fight student hunger

National studies have shown that nearly 30% of college students are food insecure. Food insecurity – limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food – has been recognized as a silent epidemic on college campuses. Many make difficult choices between tuition and textbook fees, living expenses, and subsistence expenses. The support of the Blue Hen Strong Fund allows UD to address this issue in a more holistic way.

Through a partnership between the Division of Student Life and the Office of Institutional Equity, UD will pilot a basic needs pantry in Spring 2023. The food and supply pantry will work to reduce food insecurity to serve students. The pantry allows them to better focus on their studies or work at UD without worrying about where their next meal will come from.

“It’s important to destigmatize services that complement the need for nutritious food,” Chang said. “As the pantry will be housed in the new Center for Intercultural Engagement, we are attuned to the needs of a diverse student population and thinking more broadly about representation and equity. We aim to stock food and supplies that are culturally based such as B. Black hair care products.”

According to Chang, the pantry offers the ability to connect different units across campus to provide fresh and healthy food, including leveraging UD’s strength in agricultural education and developing partnerships with Newark community programs.

“We want to create a culture of caring and strengthen the UD community as a whole,” Chang said.

As student needs for resources and opportunities continue to shift, the Blue Hen Strong Fund will remain an unrestricted fund to help Blue Hens with the greatest need. UD created a website to give a gift.

About the Blue Hen Strong Fund

Launched in 2020, the Blue Hen Strong Fund directly supports the ever-evolving needs of UD students, keeping them strong, empowered, and flexible by providing support for key resources, opportunities, and experiences that will help them grow at UD and beyond to be successful and grow. Since its inception, the fund has provided students with expanded mentoring opportunities for diverse groups, critical professional experiences through the Student Internship Grant program, a laptop loan program, secure housing, student support, and advanced technology for online learning and more.

Leave a Comment