University launches relief fund to support employees

The University of Oregon has announced a new program designed to provide financial assistance to employees facing unexpected expenses during the pandemic.

The UO Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund was created by donor gift funds and will be further supported by voluntary charitable donations from employees, donors and other entities that want to assist the members of the UO faculty and staff who are facing unexpected financial challenges.

“We know many of our colleagues are facing unforeseen hardships as they navigate this health crisis, including financial challenges. We have also heard from employees and employee representatives a desire to help those who are struggling,” said Mark Schmelz, chief human resources officer. “The UO Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund offers a means for those in need to get assistance and for others to offer their financial support.”

The Office of Human Resources, in partnership with University Advancement and the Office of Business Affairs, will administer the fund. Eligible employees with qualifying events or expenses can receive up to $500 to offset financial hardship related to the pandemic. 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.

The university also has emergency funds available for students and graduate employees through other programs.

“Our employees have shown incredible resilience and strength during this crisis, and I am grateful for our collective effort to persevere and support one another,” said President Michael H. Schill. “I am proud to be a part of this collaboration, supported by faculty and staff, as we rally together to provide some assistance to our colleagues who need it the most.” 

Program details are outlined on the HR website including employee eligibility and qualifying expenses. Employees may begin applying for a financial award through the HR website. UO community members can make charitable donations online to grow the fund beyond the initial $50,000 allocated from donor gift funds.