In April 2020, the Institute launched the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund at a time when many MIT community members were beginning to experience sudden and unexpected financial challenges due to Covid-19. The MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund Advisory Committee, consisting of staff, faculty, and senior administrators, was formed to guide the launch, and to provide counsel on policies and procedures.
The fund, designed to provide financial assistance in the form of awards that do not need to be repaid, is available to full- and part-time benefits-eligible staff and postdocs (associates and fellows) who are experiencing an immediate and temporary financial hardship due to a sudden or non-recurring emergency — for example, a loss of household income; new or increased expenses directly related to Covid-19; out-of-pocket medical bills due to serious illness or injury; and other expenses caused by a fire, flood, or natural disaster. Since its launch, the fund has helped many MIT staff and postdocs to pay their mortgages, rent, utilities, groceries, medical bills, and other essential expenses.
Applications and accompanying documentation are submitted through the MIT Human Resources website. Before applications are sent to a review committee, all identifying information is removed to ensure confidentiality. Applicants are notified of the committee’s decision by email. If approved, hardship fund awards are disbursed through direct deposit no later than 10 business days after all required supporting documentation has been received. In addition, all applicants receive a customized action plan that includes no-cost resources for financial, legal, and other life concerns through MIT’s MyLife Services benefit, as well as information about state and local resources and programs that provide assistance with housing, utilities, food, and other necessities.
“So many individuals and families are hurting right now, at MIT and beyond. As a community, we acted quickly to help our colleagues in distress, and developed a transparent, inclusive, and efficient process to launch and administer this fund. It is encouraging to hear how these awards have provided relief to our staff and postdocs,” says Ramona Allen, vice president for human resources and co-chair of the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund Advisory Committee.
The Staff Emergency Hardship Fund consists solely of voluntary charitable donations, which can be made by credit card, PayPal, payroll deduction, or wire transfer.
“It is truly heartening to see the outpouring of support from so many of our community members, including staff; junior, senior, and retired faculty; and alumni — who have made generous contributions, and have allowed us to provide meaningful and immediate relief to our colleagues during this challenging time,” says Timothy F. Jamison, associate provost and co-chair of the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund Advisory Committee.
The MIT Human Resources Center for WorkLife and WellBeing manages and administers the MIT Staff Emergency Hardship Fund, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-253-1592.