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Private Higher Education
March 15, 2021

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations looked for ways to support grantees with funded activities underway. Grantees often needed to delay or cancel events, in person gatherings, and work that had been planned for months. AVDF worked closely with grantees to modify approved grants and budgets in ways that would continue to advance the goals of the grant while protecting public health and safety. In at least one case these changes involved much more than transitioning to an online platform.

In early 2019, AVDF awarded a grant to Hendrix College aimed at improving retention and graduation for first-generation college students. The grant support provided students with opportunities for mentorship, community building efforts, experiential learning, and family support. The grant also included a small amount of support for books and technology support.

When the college transitioned from in-person learning to fully remote instruction in March 2020, students no longer had access to the campus library, internet, or computer labs. In partnership with AVDF, Hendrix reallocated funds meant to support in-person activities to expand the book and technology budget line. This expansion allowed Hendrix to assist all students in the program with academic planning materials, and to support at least one graduating senior with internet connectivity issues. Hendrix reported that when campus housing closed in March, students had to return home where they sometimes did not have access to the internet. Using the newly expanded budget line, Hendrix purchased data for the student cell phones that allowed them to continue coursework virtually for the remainder of the year, and to graduate on time.

While the purchase of data on a cell phone was not intended as part of the original grant, AVDF is proud to have worked closely with Hendrix to provide flexibility and support in meeting the needs of the program in the face of Covid-19.

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