Transforming Mission into Action

On Thursday, February 24, thousands of community members joined together to propel Seattle U Gives to new heights. Together, we raised 3,698 gifts totaling more than $900,000—a 55% dollar increase from 2021—in support of meaningful causes across campus.

During Seattle U Gives, alumni, faculty and staff, student and community members rallied around the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) Emergency Fund, raising more than $40,000 to help students experiencing one-time, non-tuition-related financial emergencies. This includes rent and utility support, technology repair and replacement, essential transportation needs and more.

Every gift made and story shared in support of the OMA Emergency Fund during Seattle U Gives is fostering a community of care that works toward ensuring all students can meet their most basic needs to remain focused on their academic performance.

Bringing Mission to Life

For more than 50 years, the Office of Multicultural Affairs has advocated for connection, education and advocacy, while working to uplift SU’s historically minoritized student body. “We recognize that institutions of higher education were not created with a diverse population in mind,” says Michelle Kim, OMA director. “And so, as part of OMA’s mission, we strive to create an inclusive learning environment and to make sure that everyone has the resources and spaces needed to thrive and be their authentic selves.”

In the early 2000s, the OMA Emergency Fund began out of a partnership with Costco Wholesale as an extension of this mission. It aimed to alleviate students’ financial distress, in turn supporting their mental, physical and emotional well-being and helping to contribute to their academic success.

“Financial emergencies effect students from all across campus,” says Kim. “It's not just undergrad students—it’s our grad and law students, our nursing students and everyone in between. What’s special about the fund is that it is a very tangible, very immediate way that we see our office impacting students from so many areas on a daily basis.

“The Office of Multicultural Affairs Emergency Fund provided a safety net for me and my family with its one-time gift, which came at a time when an unexpected expense arose. Briefly, our personal vehicle needed repairs and as a long-distance commuter/carpooler, multiple people depend on it as a mode of transportation. Without OMA, we could not have made it to work, school, doctors’ appointments and various other destinations. OMA is a wonderful program. Your continued support helps families and not just individuals. Thanks OMA!

Bridging the Gap

As the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial circumstances for many in our community, more and more students have looked to OMA for support. In the 2021-22 academic year, the number of students requesting emergency funding has nearly doubled from pre-pandemic years and the average award has increased by $100. This sharp rise has created a gap between student need and available funding.

Seattle U Gives provided a new platform for OMA to close that gap. But for OMA Director Kim, the success of Seattle U Gives 2022 was about more than just the numbers. “What made Seattle U Gives unique this year wasn’t just the amount of dollars raised,” says Kim, “but the focus we were able to draw on our students’ wellness.

“We invite our students to be a part of this community and we want to be able to give them a kind of environment where they can thrive. If they’re hungry, if they’re stressed about finances, if they’re managing mental, emotional or physical health concerns, then they’re not going to be able to focus on their education. In highlighting the OMA Emergency Fund—along with the Food Security Initiative and the Mental Health & Wellness Fund—during Seattle U Gives for the first time, SU made a unique and increased commitment to our students’ well-being.”

Continue Your Impact

While Seattle U Gives is over, there is still a myriad of ways you can led your time, talent and treasure toward supporting OMA.

“COVID interrupted how we get the word out about our programs,” says Kim. “Because of this, we had two years-worth of first- and second-year students who had never stepped into our office before and who hadn't heard about what our office can offer. One very easy and impactful thing people can do is amplifying the OMA Emergency Fund and the Food Security Initiative so that more and more students who are struggling with financial, one-time, non-tuition-related hardship or food insecurity know there’s a place on campus for them to come to get support.”

OMA’s Food Pantry also accepts donations of paper bags, both perishable and non-perishable food items, menstrual products and baby formula. For a full list of Food Pantry donation items, visit OMA’s website. To learn more or to arrange a donation, contact Karina Saunders at

And if you missed Seattle U Gives but would still like to make a monetary gift to either the OMA Emergency Fund or the Food Security Initiative, you can use this link and note “OMA Emergency Fund” or “Food Security Initiative” in the comments.


Categories: Student Development
Themes: Care for the Whole Person, Community/Belonging, DEI, Empowering Leaders, Donors