When students walk into O’Neill Associate Director of Student Services James Eckerty’s office, he often ends up talking to them about far more than academics.
“I’ve seen how life’s obstacles can really affect our students,” he says. “We know if they don’t have a place to call home or a reliable source of food or transportation, it can destroy their focus on college and the future.”
Eckerty talks to students about on-campus work-study opportunities, scholarships, and other resources. That includes applying for the IUPUI O’Neill Student Emergency Fund.
The fund provides financial assistance for students facing unforeseen emergencies—unexpected job loss, car repairs, housing issues, medical bills, and more. They apply for assistance and a committee reviews their request to determine if they qualify and how much they could provide.
The fund and the students rely on support from donors. Eckerty contributes and so do O’Neill faculty members Cullen and Breanca Merritt. In addition to their roles in the classroom, they also manage student researchers at the Project for Research on Organizations, Management, and Publicness Theory (PROMPT) and the IU Public Policy Institute’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy. They’ve seen the struggles firsthand.
“We donate to the O’Neill Student Emergency Fund because we work with and teach students who have expressed financial need, often in completely unexpected ways,” Breanca Merritt says. “Having dependable sources of financial support for emergencies better positions students to focus on their academic and professional pursuits, which are challenging in and of themselves.”
An added benefit to the fund is how quickly students can access help versus other methods that may take weeks or even months to secure. Eckerty says that payoff is there for donors as well.
“As a donor, you instantly see the results of your gift,” Eckerty adds. “This is a great way to help make a true difference for someone facing something that could jeopardize their success or continuation in college.”
The Merritts say helping students in times of need is a critical part of the support the O’Neill family provides. They and Eckerty are asking anyone who can to donate to the fund to help students through those unexpected times.
“We want students to know they’re not alone and that so many people want to help them,” Cullen Merritt says. “We also want them to recognize the importance of paying it forward—financially and otherwise—when they can help someone else in need in the future.”
Now isn’t the right time to donate for everyone. But if you are able, you can give to the IUPUI O’Neill Student Emergency Fund at this link.