MCLA Trailblazers Keep Going Initiative Puts CARES Act Funding to Work

NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—This week, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced the Trailblazers Keep Going Initiative, which will deploy the first tranche of the College’s federal CARES Act funding allocation to directly aid students in need.

Under the CARES Act, which provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary education students and institutions nationally, MCLA will receive $1.3 million in funding. Colleges and universities are required to utilize the first tranche of this funding—around $650,000 to MCLA specifically—to assist students experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A large portion of this funding will be distributed through the MCLA Resiliency Fund, which was set up in March by the MCLA Foundation and has since distributed nearly $30,000 in private money to help ease the immediate needs for more than 75 MCLA students who are struggling with financial hardships due to COVID-19. Additional dollars will be added to the Resiliency Fund’s total in order to meet the needs of as many students experiencing economic hardship as possible. Students can apply for funding to cover rent payments, food, internet expenses, course materials such as laptops, and even the cost of a summer course to help stay on track due to the transition to remote learning (MCLA’s first summer session begins in May and will take place remotely). 

“We have always been focused on equity, access, and affordability—and this initiative is designed to make sure students with a high level of need receive help for academic needs as well as things like groceries and rent payments,” said MCLA President James F. Birge, Ph.D. “Through the Resiliency Fund, which has already proven to be effective in identifying and responding to these emergency needs, we will be able to fully evaluate and respond to requests for funding.” 

Earlier this month, MCLA reimbursed resident students for partial housing, meal plan, and parking costs, due to COVID-19 moving the campus to remote instruction for the semester, which began March 30. The total of those reimbursements was $1.5 million. Colleges and universities are not permitted to replenish these refund expenses with CARES Act funding. 

“We are grateful to receive CARES Act funding to distribute to our students,” said Birge. “The Trailblazers Keep Going Initiative was designed to make sure that this funding goes directly to students and can help ensure their academic journey continues without interruption. College—and public college especially—elevates lives, introducing students to opportunities and interests that they otherwise may not have access to. This funding will help us rapidly respond to those in our community who need assistance in order to continue this journey with as little interruption as possible.”

Find out more at MCLA students experiencing financial hardship should visit this page to apply for funding.