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To successfully deliver emergency aid, colleges and universities must strategically raise awareness about the available resources. The communications challenge is layered: to make sure students can find the emergency support they need, institutions must prepare the landscape with adequate signposts. That means providing the institution (students, faculty and staff) with enough knowledge to spread awareness. Institutions should also ensure that staff members responsible for implementing emergency aid are able to hear what students need to better address their requests and keep them enrolled or on a path to graduation.
How do colleges and universities address that challenge? In some cases, there is a specialized team or staff member dedicated to handling referrals and administration of emergency aid funds. This dedicated staff can create and maintain resources for ensuring awareness of emergency aid for students as well as faculty and staff.
Beyond basic awareness, colleges and universities should use a wide range of outreach methods to help students, faculty and staff understand where and how to find information about emergency aid. Institutions can employ online and offline tools to strategically reach these audiences at different moments and through different media. Institutions have an opportunity to spread the word about emergency aid resources at new or transfer student and housing orientations, through student-focused social media channels, and by distributing information to student organizations.
Effective communication about emergency aid goes beyond sharing information about available resources. More than half of institutions engage in some form of follow-up correspondence with students after distributing emergency aid. By maintaining this dialogue, colleges and universities can gather valuable feedback about the effectiveness of their efforts and use that information to continually improve their program.
The community of institutions interested in emergency aid continues to grow. We'll collect and catalog many of the developed resources and tools so they can be discovered, shared and improved upon by the evolving emergency aid community. Browse this library of tools and resources for implementing, evaluating and improving emergency aid at colleges and universities.