Emergency fundraising drives boost bursaries after COVID-19 pandemic
The Langara College Foundation hosts auctions to help students facing financial hardship
By Nicolette Colosimo
This story has been updated to include quotes from Gerda Krause as well as additional information on financial aid.
Langara College surpassed its goal of raising $1 million in bursaries in an effort to help students who need support because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2015, the college set a goal of raising its yearly bursary funding to $1 million by 2020.
The executive director of the Langara College Foundation, Moira Gookstetter, has changed the way the foundation raises money.
Fundraising events, which were previously done in person, have moved online, which has unexpectedly been beneficial in widening the pool of donors.
“Moving the auction online, we’ve actually raised more money because more people have been part of it online,” said Gookstetter. “Every student has a need and every donor has a cause they want to support.”
This fall, the foundation held an auction for the Support Our Students campaign, known as SOS, with 165 online items, and raised over $12,000.
Langara staff, such as Gerda Krause, dean of the faculty of science, donate money to the SOS fund to ensure every student has support.
“There are a lot of avenues for students to get help, and I think I put that down to the people who work here. There is a strong commitment to helping students be successful and that means in the classroom, but it also means helping them with their day-to-day struggles,” Krause said.
“You can’t fix everything, but if you have the opportunity to fix something it’s important to step up.”
Filling an increased need
These funding initiatives have become a necessity, with an increasing demand on the Langara programs which dispense groceries and provide hampers of school supplies and necessities for students.
“Since the start of the school year we distributed more than 522 bags, which averages out to be about 85 bags per week. This has more than doubled since last year,” Gookstetter said.
“In September 2020, we distributed 279 hampers to students and this year we supported 511 students.”
In the wake of COVID-19, the number of students applying for bursary funding increased to 439 in 2021 from 338 in 2020.
Jordan Berger, associate registrar for the financial aid department, encourages students to visit the registrar’s office.
“We do have a lot of bursaries and a lot of funds that can help students out,” Berger said. “You just need to seek it out, find it and apply.”
While some bursaries have specific qualifications, general bursaries only require applicants to be full-time students with good academic standing and financial need.
Second-year theatre student Brian Martinez applied for general bursaries, which he said made a difference after losing his job.
“When COVID hit, my cashflow instantly halted. I had no idea what to do,” Martinez said.
“I was frantically trying to apply to any and every bursary, so that I could at least go for a year or two.”
Martinez received $1,050 in bursary funds.
“Although it’s not an enormous amount, I used $500 for five months of groceries,” Martinez said.
“Getting the bursary assured me that I was on the right track and allowed me to not feel even more stressed than I already am with COVID and schooling.”