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USM Class of 2019 launches student emergency fund with successful “Pay It Forward’ Campaign

The University of Southern Maine’s Class of 2019 raised thousands of dollars to create a new emergency fund meant to help students who face sudden, unanticipated expenses that threaten to derail them from school. Martin's Point Health Care, a long-time partner with the university, helped launch the campaign with its challenge.

The inaugural “Pay It Forward” Challenge was an extraordinary success.

Student fundraising surged past an original goal of $2019, triggering a generous $20,000 gift from Martin’s Point Health Care and prompting USM President Glenn Cummings to issue a hair-raising challenge to the Class of 2019. If they could reach the $5,000 mark, he would allow the students to spraypaint his hair USM blue and gold.

“So many of our students are financially fragile, and an unexpected car repair, an out-of-state funeral or any other unforeseen expense can cause them to drop out of college,” Cummings said. “I am so grateful to Martin's Point and our graduating class for their generosity in support of USM’s Student Emergency Fund. The Fund will now help more students get through these unexpected crises, enabling them to continue on to a successful conclusion of their college careers.”

USM students spray paint President Cummings hair The Class of 2019 surpassed the $5,000 fundraising goal and, as promised, President Cummings received his colorful coiffure at the May 9  President’s Champagne Reception for graduating seniors, hosted by the USM Alumni Association. Representatives from Martin's Point were also in attendance to present the $20,000 check to the successful students who lead the effort to double the fundraising total.

Included in the student fundraising effort was $2205.16, donated by the USM Sustainability Office, which took donations during the 7th Annual Free Electronic Waste Recycle Day.

”Their support of our students reflects what we already know about the USM community: We take care of each other,” said Kayla Griffis, a graduating senior and a member of the Class of 2019 Class Gift Committee. “Our sincere thanks to everyone who responded to the call for donations to help ensure USM students can stay in school, get their degrees and live their dreams."

Martin's Point presents check to USMMuch of the money was raised in modest amounts. Donations of $2.19 earned students a Class of 2019 pin. Donations of $20.19 or more earned students a pin and a USM Foundation philanthropy cord to wear at the Commencement ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, May 11 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

"I'm proud to support the student emergency fund as it tackles the challenges of students with different income levels," student Tom Dolloff said. "As an independent college student, I know that a sudden medical expense would put my academic career in jeopardy."

“Kudos to the University of Southern Maine Class of 2019 who blew away our “Pay It Forward” challenge—raising more than double the needed donations to the Student Emergency Fund to trigger our gift of $20,000,” said Dr. David Howes, president and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care. “We applaud your commitment to your USM community and are proud to have partnered with you in our shared goal of strengthening this fund to support even more students in need in the future.”

To learn more about the Student Emergency Fund, visit the USM Dean of Students webpage.