Acts of Kindness Emergency Grants

Campus communities donate funds to support students during COVID-19 pandemic

Faculty, staff and administrators at Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College believe that promoting student success extends beyond their professional roles.

Along with board members of both college foundations, our campus communities have made donations to the Acts of Kindness (AoK) Emergency Grant Fund to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AoK assistance was originally created to help students at risk of dropping out of college due to unexpected financial crises. AoK helps students stay in school and achieve their academic, career and financial goals.

The novel coronavirus has created new and difficult challenges for our students, including loss of income. Emergency grants can make all the difference, allowing students in need to afford living expenses related to utilities, housing, food, healthcare, transportation and childcare.

“My family and I were greatly affected by this pandemic with lost jobs and cut hours. The Inver Hills emergency fund is something I never imagined I would need, but I’m so grateful it was available to me. Getting these funds means my wife and I can get some relief from the stress and sleepless nights caused by this pandemic.”

— Inver Hills student

As of Friday, May 15, 2020, the Acts of Kindness Emergency Grant internal giving campaigns launched by the Inver Hills and DCTC foundations have raised a combined total of $13,460—$7,920 at Inver Hills and $5,540 at DCTC.

Michael Berndt, DCTC and Inver Hills president, committed to matching donations up to $500 at both colleges—and both matches were met. Barbara Curchack, Inver dean of liberal arts, Libby Fahrenkamp, Inver admissions advisor, and an anonymous donor committed to $100 matches at Inver Hills and those matches were also met.

Inver Hills counselor perspective…

When the campus first began the transition to fully online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my thoughts immediately went to our students who rely on our Mobile Pantry and Student Lunchbox program for food support. I also worried about our students who didn’t have stable housing or reliable access to technology or those who might lose jobs or face reduction in pay due to illness.

Nicole Bietz

Our mission as a community college is to provide access and opportunity to high-quality education for ALL students. At Inver Hills, we take this mission to heart, and all of our work is focused first on the needs of our students and how we can join together as a community to support them. We know that education has the power to change lives, and that is particularly true during times of adversity.

In the early days of our transition planning, our faculty and staff were not only working hard to transition their work fully online, they were also looking for ways they could support our most vulnerable students. Faculty and staff reached out to me in my role as a counselor and asked how they could help students financially. They wanted to know if they should buy food or gift cards or how they could best help our students.

I knew that our Acts of Kindness Emergency Grant funds were getting low so I consulted with Kim Shaff in our foundation office, and she organized a message to send out to our faculty and staff with opportunities to contribute to our Acts of Kindness and Student Lunchbox funds.

I am so thankful to work for a college that is so student-focused. At Inver Hills, we care deeply about our students and that is evidenced by the generosity of our faculty and staff who contributed to this campaign.

Nicole Bietz
Inver Hills Community College

Student impact stories

Inver Hills

If I can’t cover my expenses at home, I’ll have to pull from my gas fund, which I need to get to school. I’m in a position where I’m having to choose between eating, paying bills and going to school. I’m type I diabetic and have frequent doctor’s appointments so this also limits my ability to work. I’m doing well in my classes and really don’t want to stop attending school.

Losing my job hours has increased my stress levels and is making it difficult to find resources to finish my semester. I am experiencing difficulty obtaining enough food for myself and my family.

My family and I were greatly affected by this pandemic with lost jobs and cut hours. The Inver Hills emergency fund is something I never imagined I would need, but I’m so grateful it was available to me. Getting these funds means my wife and I can get some relief from the stress and sleepless nights caused by this pandemic. I will forever be indebted to Inver Hills for the support they have shown me through one of the toughest challenges of my life. I am proud to be part of the Inver Hills family.

We are a big family of nine! Both parents working and I am a student as well. Our son was born in December with an unexpected heart defect that required us to stay in NICU and then at three days old a surgery. I had to stop working to be with our son. Unfortunately, two months later dad came down with COVID-9, and when he was better laid off due to COVID.

We are blessed and received unemployment, but it took almost six weeks and bills and needs pile up quickly. I was unaware of this grant until my counselor told me about it, but we are all so thankful and grateful for it, this will definitely help us go in the right direction. Thank you!


I am requesting the microgrant to assist in making a payment for my car. I lost my job on March 15, and I am currently unemployed.

I’m requesting a microgrant to help me pay for some bills and food support due to the stay-at-home order. My hours have been cut. I work at Amazon and at my school, but school has been canceled so I haven’t been working there.

I am requesting an emergency grant due to my current living situation. I am going to be evicted in one month. My mother cares for my four younger siblings in a three-bedroom house. My father is currently homeless himself. I have taken care of myself since I was 17. I did not expect to be evicted, and I am not sure what I will do.

Emergency Grants Fund

Inver Hills: Online Giving

(select Acts of Kindness in designation drop-down menu)

DCTC: DCTC Foundation Donation Form

(select Acts of Kindness in donation categories drop-down menu)

Donor perspectives…

DCTC Donor: Matt Boudinot, Automotive Technician Faculty

Why did you donate to the fund?
“Just got our stimulus money today, and I know others could use it more than we need it. We would like to help students impacted by the coronavirus.”

Inver Hills Donor: Libby Fahrenkamp, Admissions Advisor

Why did you donate to the fund?
“My spouse and I feel very lucky to both still have our jobs through this crisis, and we recognize that many people in our community have lost their jobs and are now having to re-prioritize in ways they did not expect. We also both remember how difficult paying for college was, and are still paying back loans from our respective degrees. Being able to help our students by donating to the emergency grant program is one small way we can support Inver students by removing unplanned financial barriers.”

Learn more about the Acts of Kindness Emergency Grants campaign and the Inver Hills Foundation by contacting:

Elsbeth Howe
Inver Hills Foundation Development Director

Chris Hinrichs
Foundation Business & Accounting Coordinator

Learn more about the Acts of Kindness Emergency Grants campaign and the DCTC Foundation by contacting:

Amy Eppen
DCTC Foundation Development Director

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *