The COVID-19 crisis has left no community untouched — including UCLA. But it also has brought out the best in Bruins, who have pooled time, talent and treasure to meet the challenge.
Philanthropy on the Front Line
Within a month of launching COVID-19 appeals, UCLA received more than 1,500 cash gifts and hundreds of offers of personal protective equipment (PPE), food and care items for health care workers. The resources have helped UCLA Health expand capacity and adapt operations to ensure that high-risk cases are tested and treated.
Support continues to come in from all across the philanthropic spectrum, from foundations and corporations to local businesses and personal fundraising campaigns. The efforts of UCLA students, alumni and community members — including children and youth — have supplied health care workers with PPE, groceries and gift cards.
As hospitals across the country experienced PPE shortages, a team drawn from UCLA Health, UCLA Library’s Lux Lab, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and UCLA School of Dentistry developed a reusable face shield that can be produced using 3D printers, which were purchased with the help of generous donors.
Donations also enabled UCLA scholars to pivot their research to shared priorities. Faculty and administrators have expedited clinical trials for treatments, and others have been examining risks among specific populations. Engineering, data science, clinical medicine and epidemiology experts have created an app to track virus spread by survey, enhancing care capacity management. And public health faculty have advised local leadership, spoken with media and educated the public.
“Based on these early experiences, I believe the way we do research beyond this COVID-19 crisis will profoundly change,” says Kelsey Martin, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “We’re seeing even more shared social responsibility and shared information, and it’s a better way of doing science.”
Support for Students
On the learning front, the pandemic changed the educational experience for UCLA students. Classes moved to remote platforms, student jobs in residence halls and cafeterias were temporarily suspended and vulnerable family members were in need of care. Philanthropy has filled some of the financial gaps created by the COVID-19 crisis.
In the month following the shift to remote learning in March, 300 donors gave more than $190,000 to UCLA’s Economic Crisis Response Fund — and the numbers have continued to grow through supporters’ generosity. The fund has covered basic needs — such as food, rent, hygiene products and medical care — for thousands of students. At the same time, students have been maintaining their education through virtual means. To aid in the transition and the need for equipment, a new Bruin Tech Fund supplied undergraduates with essential technology, from laptops and tablets to Wi-Fi hot spots.
Patricia Turner, senior dean of the UCLA College of Letters and Science and vice provost of undergraduate education, initiated the new fund using discretionary support received during the recent Centennial Campaign. The Bruin Tech Fund also garnered commitments from across campus, including the Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA Anderson School of Management, which don’t even enroll undergraduates. In all, 12 campus units contributed $745,000.
“I’m so proud to be part of a community that looks out for everyone,” Turner says. “We hope that these contributions from departments and donors alike encourage others to support our dedicated students during a tumultuous time.”
Other efforts, including discretionary funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, have bolstered student services through the Community Programs Office Food Closet, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars. The Food Closet has raised about $100,000 in donations and departmental contributions, supplementing a similar amount in state funding for grocery gift cards. Under constantly changing conditions, it’s more clear than ever that support for students is vital.
“I believe the way we do research beyond this COVID-19 crisis will profoundly change.”
Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Using Everyone’s Gifts for Good
Surviving — and thriving — in such times takes giving of all kinds, including contributions past and present. With everyone on board, UCLA has been able to share its resources with the local, national and global community.
In one instance, researchers identified greater economic risk from COVID-19 in Los Angeles’ Latino and Asian American communities, informing future recovery plans. The report was co-sponsored by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, which launched during the Centennial Campaign. At the UCLA School of Law, experts have compiled legal resources on COVID-19, while moving mock trial competitions online for students nationwide.
Daniel Fessler, director of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute, shared his thoughts in an oral essay titled “A Global Lifeboat: Evolution and Kindness in the Time of Coronavirus.” Also donor-supported, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance captured the vocals of South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Royce Hall for a unique virtual viewing, and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture is sharing artistic photos and videos to feed spirits worldwide.
Closer to home, the UCLA Community School in Koreatown is feeding hungry families. Enhanced by philanthropy, the site is a go-to resource for local residents — it’s designated as one of 68 Grab and Go Food Centers for Los Angeles Unified School District students and their families during the COVID-19 crisis.
In times like these, everyone is called to contribute. Together, UCLA’s health care providers, researchers, students, faculty, partners, alumni and donors continue to answer the call.