UO hopes to grow fund to support employees in need

Employee Relief Fund image

The University of Oregon Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund gained traction last week with 66 employees approved for awards totaling $31,300.

“Thanks to the generous contributions from UO employees and donor gift funds, we are able to provide support and assistance to our colleagues in a time of need,” said Mark Schmelz, chief human resources officer.

The fund launched on July 28 with an initial investment of $50,000. An additional $4,500 has been contributed by employees and other individual donors. Following the first week of applications, more than 50 percent of the fund has been awarded leaving $23,000 for disbursement.

“Already many of our colleagues have stepped up and given in support of their fellow university employees. We are grateful for every gift regardless of the dollar amount,” said Mike Andreasen, vice president of University Advancement. The UO community can give to the employee relief fund through the DuckFunder website.

“Seeing the care and kindness of our UO family through their gifts to the employee relief fund is so inspiring,” Schmelz said. “Being part of a community that lifts up others during difficult times is something we can all be proud of.”

The Office of Human Resources, in partnership with University Advancement and the Office of Business Affairs, administers the fund. Eligible employees with qualifying events or expenses can receive up to $500 to offset eligible expenses for childcare, eldercare, medical or health expenses related to the pandemic. Employees who have experienced a sudden income reduction related to their UO position, such as those on the UO Extended Benefits Program, are eligible to receive funds related to household expenses.

Kaia Rogers, senior director of HR programs, services and strategic initiatives, said the university hopes to provide financial awards through the fund for as many employees as possible. “As long as we have funds, we will keep sending money to eligible employees in need.”

Employees will be able to receive the money tax free because it was set up to comply with regulatory requirements, including IRS Code Section 139.

Program details are outlined on the HR website including information on employee eligibility, qualifying expenses and the application process.