Professional News

Assistance Available to UK Employees Facing Financial Hardship Due to COVID-19; Relief Funds Accepting Donations

photo of man holding mask and empty wallet depicting Covid-19 hardship
Photo by Julia Sudnitskaya. iStock/Getty Images Plus.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 26, 2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, efforts have been made to help University of Kentucky employees who are adversely affected by the virus itself or the situation created by the pandemic in general. UK employees who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 have a choice between two different funds offering assistance — the UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund and the Crisis Relief in Situations Involving Staff and Faculty (C.R.I.S.I.S.) Program, which is operated by the UK Staff Senate.

UK faculty and staff members and individuals and organizations outside the university can contribute to these funds to help UK employees in need.

The UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund was established by UK in May specifically to provide financial support to individuals who are experiencing an unforeseen, temporary financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

To be eligible to receive assistance from the UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund, an individual must:

  • Be a current employee (faculty and staff, including temporary/STEPS) or a retired university employee (as defined in UK Administrative Regulation 3:1) at the time of their application and fund distribution. The Advisory Committee may also consider other, unique situations or circumstances.
  • Be experiencing a financial hardship due to or connected with COVID-19.
  • Submit an application and supporting documents.

Hardships due to or connected with COVID-19 include: recovery from COVID-related illness; out-of-pocket, un-reimbursable medical expenses or co-pays; funeral expenses; caregiver responsibilities for a family member; threat of loss of essential utilities; threat of loss of household; or a major unexpected expense that is not covered by an active insurance policy. Expenses must have occurred on or after March 13, 2020.

Awards will depend on the availability of funds and are made by the Advisory Committee whose members review the applications. 

All awards are made from gifted funds; no state funds are used to provide awards. Awards cannot be used to reimburse the cost of nonessential, luxury or decorative items and services. An individual may receive one award per year. Awards will be made through a debit card or the university’s corporate partner Kroger.

Application Process for UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund Assistance

  1. Employees requesting assistance must complete an assistance application. An online assistance application form is available here:
  2. Employees can also request a printed copy of the form by calling 859-257-8763 or emailing; printed forms can be mailed to: Human Resources, ATTN: Covid-19 Response, 115 Huguelet Drive, Lexington, KY 40506.
  3. Submit supporting documents (e.g., utility bill) along with your application; this will help the committee review each application and distribute associated funds quickly. If you need help completing the form, please contact or 859-257-8763.
  4. As quickly as possible, the Advisory Committee will review all eligible, completed applications and supporting documents, determine the availability of funds and the ability to meet the applicant’s need(s) prior to making a decision.
  5. If the application is approved, the Advisory Committee will notify the applicant in writing and provide instructions on next steps. The committee may request additional information before making a decision, which will place an applicant in a pending status. Applicants will have 30 calendar days to provide the requested information.
  6. All approved fund distributions will be provided directly to or on behalf of an applicant.
  7. Fund recipients are encouraged to consult with a tax advisor to determine whether the grant constitutes taxable income.

Donating to the UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund

This fund is supported by voluntary charitable employee donations and contributions from individual donors and other entities that want to assist UK employees during unexpected financial challenges.

Donors can contribute to the UK Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund by any of the following methods:

  • Online through the University of Kentucky at:;
  • or through the Blue Grass Community Foundation 
  • Mailing a check to either of the below.
    • Make checks payable to Blue Grass Community Foundation and indicate that your gift should be directed to the University of Kentucky Employee COVID-19 Response Fund. Mail checks to: Blue Grass Community Foundation, Attn: UK Employee COVID-19 Response Fund, 499 E. High Street #112, Lexington, KY 40507.
    • Make checks payable to the University of Kentucky, with a direction for the Employee COVID-19 Response Fund. Mail checks to: University of Kentucky Attn: UK Office of Philanthropy, 210 Malabu Drive Suite 200, Lexington KY 40502. 

Payroll deduction. Employees can enroll in or make changes to their Payroll Deduction(s) on this site: Employees should follow the prompts for entering their contact information, then select "I want to choose my specific fund(s)," and then search for Fund Name: Employee COVID-19 Response Fund.  

Gifts made through the Blue Grass Community Foundation can be made anonymously. Donors are encouraged to consult a tax advisor regarding the tax benefits associated with their gift.


The UK Staff Senate has operated the C.R.I.S.I.S. Program for several years and has recently included COVID-19 related financial need as part of eligibility for the program’s assistance.

Other qualifying needs include:

  • Threat of essential utilities being turned off, such as electric, water or gas.
  • No pay status due to recovery from injury, illness or surgery.
  • No pay status due to caregiver responsibilities for a family member or sponsored dependent.
  • Loss of dwelling or household furnishings due to fire, act of nature or eviction notice.
  • A major unexpected expense.

C.R.I.S.I.S. application process:

  1. Meet one of the above qualifying criteria.
  2. Fill out a CRISIS application.
  3. Turn in the application and supporting documents to Todd M. Macaulay, financial well-being officer, 115 Scovell Hall, CAMPUS 0064.

Fund recipients are encouraged to consult with a tax advisor to determine whether the grant constitutes taxable income.

Donating to the C.R.I.S.I.S. Program

There are three ways UK employees can donate:

(Donors wishing to stop a recurring payroll deduction can also do so through myUK.)

Donors are encouraged to consult a tax advisor regarding the tax benefits associated with their gift.

More detailed information is available at

Cross referencing for applications made to both funds will be conducted to avoid making duplicate awards.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.