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Ryerson student relief fund distributes $3 million in emergency support

Technology and counselling services round out offerings to help students navigate COVID-19
Category:From the Vice-Provost, Students
April 21, 2020
woman wearing blue denim jacket holding book

Students remain the number-one priority of the university, especially in these unprecedented times. Photo credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

I hope this message finds all members of our community healthy and safe.

We have been navigating the last several weeks to the best of our collective ability and recognize that students have had to make a number of unexpected adjustments to finish the winter semester. I’m so pleased with how we have come together to support students with numerous programs, funds and initiatives as they adjust to the sudden changes prompted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

This unprecedented situation, which has been the cause of financial and emotional hardship for many, has sparked a series of student-focused initiatives demonstrating the university’s resilience and commitment to its people. Though undeniably trying for everyone, we have not lost sight of how important it is to provide students with some of the financial, academic and mental-health resources they need to work through this new reality while focusing on their studies.

Students remain our number-one priority and we are grateful that we can continue to help them during this difficult period.

Ryerson Student Relief Fund

Ryerson University’s Student Relief Fund, which launched on March 31, 2020, and generated $3 million in support, was able to provide 4,000 students across faculties and equity groups with barrier-free access to $750 each. Though this fund closed on April 3, 2020, we recognize that many of our students continue to find themselves in precarious financial situations. In particular, we are working with Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services (RASS) to ensure that financial assistance remains available to our Indigenous students who may not have been able to access funds in this initial phase.

For those who would like and are able to help support our students, you can do so by visiting the Ryerson Student Relief Fund donation page. We appreciate all contributions and are deeply grateful to those who have already offered to help. We would also like to thank Ryerson faculty and staff, who have contributed so generously.

Other ways we’re helping

In addition to the Student Relief Fund, several bursaries have been offered through Ryerson’s departmental discretionary accounts. Specific Relief Funds across various faculties are also being distributed through the Student Awards and Scholarships Office, with commitments from the Ted Rogers School of Management, the Faculty of Community Services, the Faculty of Arts and the Yeates School of Graduate Studies. In total, these funds represent an additional financial commitment of almost $2 million.

Ryerson University Library

In response to COVID-19, the Ryerson University Library quickly mobilized to ensure students and faculty continued to have access to critical services and resources, including: highlighting and adding digital collections (ebooks, ejournals, data and streaming media); expanding virtual reference hours; shifting workshops, instruction and programming online; and ensuring graduate students and faculty had advanced Scholarly Research and Creative (SRC) support.

Further, the Library invested more than $250,000 to expand its laptop lending program and to add wifi hotspot lending to ensure that students in need had the technology and connectivity required to complete coursework. For the winter term, the Library delivered approximately 100 laptops and 85 wifi hotspots, and working with the President’s Office, assisted approximately 160 Ryerson students with securing access to Rogers’ temporary unlimited data plan offer – an offer Rogers generously extended to students in need. The Rogers offer closed March 26, 2020, and the Library has now revised the laptop and wifi lending program to help support spring and summer students experiencing a special need or hardship.

Student Health and Wellness

Ryerson recently partnered with keep.meSAFE, an external provider of virtual counselling, mental health and crisis management services for all students. The temporary addition to Ryerson’s existing student well-being offerings is due to service delivery changes as a result of COVID-19, and is offered in conjunction with services provided by the Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC) and Ryerson’s Medical Centre.

Ongoing support

I would like to thank the entire Ryerson community for its dedication to students as we adapt to the many changes sparked by COVID-19. None of this would have been possible without your ingenuity, or your desire to ensure everyone’s continued learning and success.

To our students: We are here to help you as this situation evolves and will continue to make decisions in the best interest of your health and safety; please don’t hesitate to reach out if you're in need. To learn more about any changes that may affect you, as well as the many offices and resources across campus that are available to you, please visit


Jen McMillen
Vice-Provost, Students

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