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At UNC-Chapel Hill, we know that our community is stronger and safer when we are connected to each other. Building on deep networks of organizing forged during the recent challenging years at UNC, graduate workers have formed a horizontal mutual aid network, Crisis Relief at UNC, to support students, staff, faculty, and others in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, and the surrounding areas. Like others in community organizations, neighborhoods, and even departments finding ways to support each other materially, we are tapping into our community network through UNC-Chapel Hill to build a mutual aid system in order to help sustain this broad community.

We are writing because our community needs your help. Undergraduates need funds to make rent after losing their student employment and other jobs. Grad workers have been laid off and lost critical second and third jobs in the service industry. International students can’t get home, but need internships to be able to keep their visas and stay in the country. Essential workers need child care assistance as they respond to this crisis. We are here and ready to meet as many of these needs as we can.

Would you consider donating today to our mutual aid fund? Organized by the community and not tied to the institution’s governing body, donating to the crisis relief fund is a simple, direct way to redistribute funds to those in our community who need it most. As stimulus packages come down from the federal government, we know that people we care about will still need support–undocumented folks, those without stable or any employment, parents balancing essential work and childcare —and we ask that if you don’t have need of the proposed stimulus money of $1200 to each individual, you donate a matching amount to the Crisis Relief at UNC mutual aid fund. If you would like to learn more about the fund, we’ve included some FAQs below.

Ready to help? Here’s what we need:

  1. Join the Crisis Relief at UNC mutual aid network to hear about ways to volunteer, offer up physical resources (food delivery, storage space, child care, etc.)
  1. Follow @UNCCrisisRelief on Twitter to stay connected to the network.
  1. Spread this form around to folks in need in our communities so we can get $$ to them! (Form is available in English, Spanish, and Hmong.)

What is mutual aid?

Mutual aid is, in Mariame Kaba and other organizers’ words, “solidarity, not charity.” Networks of mutual aid are non-hierarchical, horizontal formations where the members each participate by meeting the needs of others as they are able. We all are practiced in doing this, whether we call it “mutual aiding” or not. When you pick up soup for a friend who’s sick, when you offer a room to someone in a tough spot, when you ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar–all of these are mutual aid efforts. This concept of working together for the collective good can be traced across many cultures. In ᏣᎳᎩ (Tsalagi/ Cherokee), it’s called ᎦᏚᎩ (gadugi/ togetherness). We are simply trying to organize our UNC community on a larger scale to aid each other.

Though this group is made up of people connected to UNC-CH, this group is not “managed by” or affiliated with UNC. This means that the help goes directly to those who need it.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Unfortunately, we don’t have time to set up a 501(c)(3) to allow donations to be tax deductible, but a swift response to the needs of our community is essential.

How will the money I give be used?

This pool is to help alleviate the burdens facing vulnerable members of the UNC-CH community. Funds will be used to help workers, students, community members, and their families experiencing displacement, job loss, and other hardships due to the current and future crises.

Right now, our mutual aid network has decided to redistribute up to $250 to anyone who makes a request until the fund is dispersed. Folks are encouraged to re-apply if they continue to be in need of funds. We are as transparent as privacy considerations allow when dispersing the funds. The PayPal pool is up-to-date and shows how much money has collected. We will regularly update folks with how much we have dispersed and what needs we have been able to meet thanks to your solidarity.

Who decides who gets the money?

Our goal is to get this money out to our community members in need as quickly as possible. Toward that end, and because this is a horizontal network of mutual aid (solidarity, not charity!) we will not be picking and choosing with whom to share the funds. There are no “deciders;” we are simply serving as a conduit to get these funds to those that need them in our communities as quickly as possible. This is why we set a $250 grant. You ask, and if we are able to accommodate you, we will. That’s the kind of radical solidarity we believe these times demand.

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