UVa President Jim Ryan’s letter announcing relief funds
Text of the letter published Monday, April 6:
I am writing to let you know about efforts we are making to support workers furloughed by our contractors and about a contribution to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.
A core aspiration of our strategic plan is to be a university that is both great and good. Toward that end, we have committed to doing our best to be a good neighbor and to live our values. That means, among other things, doing what we can to support our most vulnerable community members.
We have kept our employees on our payroll, and we will continue to do so for as long as we can. Some of our contractors, including Aramark, have furloughed their employees. More may do so in the future. These workers are entitled to state and federal unemployment benefits, as well as some benefits being offered directly by their employers.
It has become clear that these benefits are not flowing as quickly as any of us would like, and that our contract workers need immediate assistance. It is also clear that there may be a gap between the relief available from unemployment benefits and meeting the necessities of life. Our own employees may also be facing unexpected costs due to the crisis we are all facing.
For these reasons, we are devoting $2 million to create an emergency assistance fund for UVA contract workers and employees. We cannot provide a salary or wages to those who have been furloughed, because doing so would make them ineligible for the state and federal benefits that exist for those who are unemployed. But we can provide funding to help meet an array of needs related to the crisis. Our primary focus will be to help those who have been furloughed, but this fund will also be available for those still employed and facing unexpected costs.
We will also be providing assistance to furloughed contract workers who need help in applying for state and federal unemployment benefits, and we expect this fund to be a helpful bridge to those who are awaiting benefits. We will keep this fund operational until June 1st, and we will reassess at that point.
We will have more details to share by mid-week, including a timeline and process for accessing the funds. A number of you have contacted me about helping out your colleagues, and I’m grateful for your interest and compassion. To facilitate that help, we are setting up a process for employees to donate directly to this fund.
We are also committed to being a good neighbor to the Charlottesville region. For that reason, we are also contributing $1 million to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation to support their efforts to stabilize households during this pandemic. The Foundation has already raised over $2.3 million to support these efforts, and they are doing great work and deserve our support. For anyone who needs immediate assistance, please call their Community Resource Helpline at 434-234-4490.
We will have more to say later this week about additional steps we are going to take to support our community, but I did not want to wait to get this information out. We face challenges ahead. We will only get through them by working together and doing what we can to support each other. Thanks for all of your efforts in that regard.