University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann announced today a series of new initiatives that total $4 million in emergency financial assistance to Penn employees, third-party contract workers and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The University’s dedication of $4 million for these new initiatives is in addition to the $1 million employee assistance fund announced earlier this month by Penn Medicine, for a total of $5 million in emergency assistance and also in addition to the pay continuation for the Bon Appétit contract dining workers through May 15, which was previously announced.
Penn will use this $4 million to provide financial support to the PHL COVID-19 Fund, emergency assistance for eligible Penn employees and third-party contract workers and resources for independently owned small businesses in University City. “This is a crucial time for civic leadership,” said Gutmann. “To tackle the impact of COVID-19, the people of Penn and Penn Medicine have rapidly mobilized to do everything in our power. We are enlisting all of our intellectual expertise across disciplines along with every administrative and operational area of the University.”
Financial Support for the PHL COVID-19 Fund
The PHL COVID-19 Fund, founded by the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Foundation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, raises and distributes money in support of local non-profit social services agencies. “We believe it is critically important that we partner with our City and community to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gutmann said. “What we are doing builds on our primary educational, research and clinical care missions, working together with our neighborhood partners to protect the health and safety of our community.”
Emergency Fund for Grants to Assist Penn Employees and Contract Workers
Penn has created an emergency fund for distributing grants to its full-time and part-time employees, as well as certain third-party, non-dining-related contract workers in need of emergency assistance. As previously announced, dining workers employed by Bon Appétit will receive pay continuation through the end of the semester. Eligible applicants who earn at or below $70,000 can receive a tax-free grant up to $1,500. These grants are to assist Penn employees and third-party contract workers who are adversely affected by the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 crisis. Penn is also evaluating ways to accept donations from interested members of the Penn community, as well as third-party contractors, who want to support this effort.
Support for University City Retailers and Neighborhood Businesses
Through a partnership with the University City District (UCD), Penn is providing monetary assistance coupled with UCD’s technical assistance to independently owned University City-located businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. All of Penn’s additional funds will be distributed to for-profit independently owned retailers and restaurants located in the University City District boundaries that have been in business for at least 12 months as of March 1, 2020. The grants, between $1,000 and $5,000, are to help operators stay afloat in advance of CARES Act stimulus funding. “UCD is a trusted partner,” said Penn Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli. “They can get the funds into the hands of the businesses enduring financial disruption during the pandemic.”
Along with this support, Penn is also providing short term rent abatement for locally owned and operated retailers in its commercial real estate portfolio. “These actions are critical,” said Carnaroli. “Our campus retail portfolio is more than 60% independently owned, and all of University City is well served and made more vibrant by this sector.”
“Penn is, itself, adversely affected in major ways by the disruptions caused by the pandemic,” said Provost Wendell Pritchett. “Penn is very proud to be an historic part of our vibrant community. We know that we must all help each other make it through this crisis, which none of us could have anticipated. Our mission of teaching, learning and research relies on the health of our community. Our work together makes all of us stronger, and we look forward to continuing it together through all the weeks and months ahead.”