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NU Cares

A fund for faculty and staff in crisis

For faculty and staff, Northwestern isn't just a workplace, it's a community. And in times of crisis, a community offers support. NU Cares is a fund at Northwestern that allows faculty and staff an opportunity to help a colleague in need.

Faculty and staff have often expressed interest in helping fellow employees who may be experiencing financial hardship due to a medical or catastrophic event. After discussions with Human Resources and other University groups, including the Faculty Senate, the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council established NU Cares in 2010. NU Cares provides an opportunity for staff and faculty to help one another during a time of need.

Employees may donate to the NU Cares fund by cash, check, or payroll deduction. All contributions are used to assist fellow employees. Imagine! If each of the 8,000 faculty and staff at Northwestern were to donate $1 per paycheck, the result would be a thriving fund able to assist employees in times of crisis.

All health benefits-eligible employees in good standing are eligible to apply, whether or not they donate to the fund. Applications are strictly confidential and are reviewed by a committee of staff and faculty. The fund is administered by the Office of Work/Life Resources within the Office of Human Resources. Assistance granted is not a loan and is not required to be repaid.


"On Sunday, October 13, 2013, my husband and I were devastated to learn that a fire had broken out in the apartment below ours in a two-family home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. We rushed home to assess the damage. Once inside our apartment, nothing looked too out of place, but the smell of fire and smoke was overwhelming. As my husband and I worked to put a suitcase together of clothes and valuables, we were ordered to leave the house. Something had reignited the fire and it wasn’t safe inside. Fifteen minutes later, we were upstairs again, but this time, our apartment was in complete disarray. The water and smoke damage was unbelievable. The worst part was the ceiling in our bedroom had fallen in on top of the open suitcase on our bed.

Luckily, no one had been hurt.  A volunteer from the American Red Cross gave us a $50 prepaid credit card for food for the next two days and arranged for us to stay in a nearby hotel for two nights. Without them, we would have been forced to find somewhere else to stay until we figured out what our next moves would be.

In the following weeks, we learned that the apartment was uninhabitable, and we couldn’t salvage anything save for some of my jewelry and my husband’s laptop, which stopped working a month later. I met with an adjuster who did an evaluation of our apartment and asked me to make a list of all of our belongings for insurance purposes. As we were leaving the house, he looked into the downstairs apartment where there was once a wall that had burned away. He noticed the burn marks on the floor and the refrigerator and said to me that if we had been home and the fire department had been unable to get us out through an upstairs window, we would never had made it out alive.

I went back to work after taking only two days off. I couldn't sit in the hotel with everything going on. I needed to focus my thoughts elsewhere. A colleague mentioned that NU had a program which assisted employees in need. I had only been working for NU for a little over six months, but my colleague encouraged me to apply anyway.

I was awarded the maximum amount of assistance and received it with my paycheck the following week. Without the NU Cares program, my husband and I would have had to go to great lengths to support ourselves until the insurance money came through.

I made sure once I was able to give back a considerable amount of money to NU Cares so that they can continue to assist NU employees in need. I hope that everyone considers making a donation. No amount is too small."

- Lara Gamble, Kellogg Advancement (NYC Office) - January 2014


"NU Cares is an amazing program that offers help to employees facing emergency situations. I learned about NU Cares during my new hire orientation, and at that time was in dire need of help.  I was laid off three years prior to gaining permanent employment with NU. Due to lack of income my credit score was very low and I was swimming debt.  Recently, my father passed away unexpectedly and being his only daughter, I was responsible for his funeral expenses.

With my new salary I did not qualify for daycare assistance, rental assistance and my father did not have life insurance.  Although my new salary was great, it was not enough to cover all my expenses and I had to make a decision to pay for my father’s funeral expenses or continue to be homeless and pay for daycare.  I made a decision to step out on faith and sought help from NU Cares. The grant I received helped to alleviate some of my expenses.  I was amazed to have received a financial blessing.  The fact I did not have to choose between being homeless or saying a final good bye to my father was a great relief.

The NU Cares program is amazing, everyone I spoke with offered tons of help and referred me to available community resources. I am very proud to say NU Cares really works, the program made my new hire experience at NU priceless. I’m pleased to say that NU Cares allowed me to continue to support my family during the hardest time.  I’m very thankful for NU Cares and I love being an employee w/ NU." - September 2013


NU Cares provided crucial help to me and my family during a difficult time, making a difference in the quality of our lives. Our newborn daughter required intensive care, and the resulting costly medical bills were much less burdensome after NU Cares provided its support. Everyone in our family is now healthy and happy. We will always appreciate the kindness and generosity of the Northwestern community, it made our life better and a little less stressful.” - February 2012