Western Technical College created an emergency fund for students affected financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the students at Western Technical College face some pretty serious socioeconomic challenges in a regular school year,” said Mike Swenson, the executive director of the Western Technical College Foundation. “Most of our students are academically prepared to be very successful, but if there’s a reason that they stop out from school, its generally related to economic conditions.”

Grants from the fund are given to students who may need help paying for childcare, groceries, and gas.

For one Western student who recently lost her restaurant job, it’s helping pay for her housing.

“They helped me out actually paying for part of my rent which was kind of my biggest concern with what was going on in my life situation,” said Alexandra Gustafson, a Western student.

A faculty member reached out to Gustafson to see how she was doing and informed her of the fund.

She says the process to apply online was easy and she heard back within 24 hours.

“It was just really helpful to go to a school that really does care about your well being and they want something good to happen to their students not just academic-wise,” Gustafson said.

Western estimates the fund has already helped around 25 students and the average grant is about $250.

The technical college has a goal of how much it would like to raise.

“We would really like to be able to get to $25,000 for that fund,” Swenson said. “Right now, we’re between $6,000 to $7,000, so we’ve got a ways to go.”

Donations have already been made by faculty, alumni, and community members.

“If you’d like to be able to make a donation–It’s really easy, go to WesternTC.edu and click on donate now,” said Swenson.

“For any students in my position, don’t be afraid to reach out to your faculty members,” Gustafson said. “Any of your instructors can get you in contact with people, just don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Western says the fund will be available for the foreseeable future.