Staff Council plans to set up emergency fund for employees

Staff Council voted to institute a staff emergency fund of up to $500 for staff members at any Pitt campus experiencing a natural disaster, a death in the family, a serious illness or injury or other such events, “and they just need a little bit of extra money or extra funding to get them through,” explained Angie Coldren, the organization’s president.

Many details still need to be worked out, Coldren cautioned at the group’s Oct. 20 meeting — especially the source of the money, as well as the panel to be used to assess applicant needs. Applications would be anonymous, but since documentation of the need would be required, Staff Council must still determine how to maintain applicant confidentiality.

The idea was originally conceived as a pool of money for which the group would do fundraising, a la its annual book fund that aids Pitt students who are the children of University staffers.

But member Jonah McAllister-Erickson of the University Library System expressed concerns about the long-term stability of a fund that relied on donations, given that natural disasters can create a large need, and suggested perhaps the group should find a different funding mechanism. He also recommended the group clarify whether donations to the fund would be tax deductible and whether the grants themselves would be taxable income for recipients.

Lindsay Rodzwicz of the Swanson School of Engineering, a Staff Council member involved in drafting the proposal, said the group may decide in the future whether it would approach the administration for seed funding.

— Marty Levine


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