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Westminster receives COVID relief grant from Richard King Mellon Foundation

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Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2020

Westminster College has been awarded a $210,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation designed to help the College reopen safely and expand its virtual learning capabilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Westminster is one of 12 regional colleges and universities to receive grant money from the foundation, which allocated $2.5 million for higher education institutions to use specifically for COVID-related expenses such as enhanced virtual learning needs, COVID testing, personal protective equipment or financial aid.

Westminster will use the grant money to support technologies necessary to strengthen its hybrid teaching modalities as well as health and safety resources needed for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We are grateful for the support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which will help enable the College to respond to the many challenges the pandemic has presented as we seek to comply with health and safety guidelines while promoting active, engaging teaching and learning on our campus,” said Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson.

“Our regional colleges and universities are essential engines for growth—for the students who learn there, the people who work there, and for the local communities whose economies we know they so powerfully impact,” said Foundation Director Sam Reiman. “The Foundation has partnered with each of these schools on projects over the years. And we want to be there for them now, at this critical hour, as they navigate the complex logistics of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to help them to reopen safely this fall, in whatever manner they judge best—in-person, online or both— to restart those academic and economic engines as fully as safely possible.”

Reiman said the Richard King Mellon Foundation is focused not just on the essential importance of higher education to students, but also on the powerful economic impact of colleges and universities on local businesses, particularly in more remote communities.

“For many local businesses, their neighboring college is like the sun—and if that sun goes dark, there’s no backup generator,” said Reiman. “We want to do everything we can to keep those colleges running.”

In addition to Westminster College, grants were awarded to Allegheny College, Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, Grove City College, Robert Morris University, Susquehanna University Washington & Jefferson College. An additional grant to another school is pending.

In all, the Richard King Mellon Foundation so far has allocated $25 million to COVID-19 relief and mitigation efforts.

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation: Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Foundation’s 2019 endowment was $2.7 billion and its Trustees in 2019 awarded 172 grants totaling $129 million, focused on the Foundation’s strategic priorities: economic development, education, environmental conservation and human services.