Nearly $1 million raised for Spartan Strong Fund as MSU looks to support mass shooting victims
Correction: Michigan State University is paying the funeral expenses of the students killed and hospital costs for the students injured in the Feb. 13 mass shooting. That information was incorrect in a previous version of this story due to incorrect information provided by an MSU official.
LANSING — A Michigan State University fund has raised nearly $1 million to help pay for mental health services and other expenses for students, families and staff affected by a Feb. 13 mass shooting on campus.
MSU officials established the Spartan Strong Fund the day after a lone gunman killed three students and critically injured five others.
As of Friday, $961,709 had been raised from 4,175 donors, University Advancement Vice President Kim Tobin said. She expects the total amount will exceed $1 million once royalties are collected from T-shirt sales and donations from companies that sold merchandise in support of the fund.
When the fund was first opened, Tobin said she had no idea how much money would be raised.
“I think it exceeded my expectations,” she said.
MSU has committed to covering the hospital bills of the injured students if they don't have enough insurance coverage. MSU has already helped families pay hospital bills and funeral expenses, Tobin said.
A committee tasked with making recommendations to interim President Teresa Woodruff about how the funding should be distributed met for the first time Tuesday, according to MSU Assistant Vice President of Engagement Alison Gaudreau. The committee has not yet finalized its recommendations.
The committee is comprised of MSU officials that represent student and staff needs that could be covered by the fund, like student affairs, counseling services and university finances. The committee is expected to meet again in early April, according to Gaudreau.
Any leftover funding could be used for financial support for the needs of other students and staff including mental health assistance.
MSU officials said they did not immediately know how much financial assistance MSU has given to the families and students so far.
The fund also could reimburse the costs MSU paid to bring in extra counselors and third-party mental health care providers immediately following the shooting.
As of Friday, four of the five students critically injured in the mass shooting had been discharged from the hospital. The most recent discharge was announced Wednesday.
Tobin said MSU began talking in the days after the East Lansing campus shooting with officials who raised money for similar purposes at the University of Virginia after a Nov. 13, 2022, shooting on campus left D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, all students who played football at the school, dead.
MSU officials learned how UVA officials raised about $1 million. Even more than four months later, the Virginia school is still finding ways to distribute the funds it collected, said Tobin, adding that collecting those funds isn’t as easy as simply receiving a check.
Officials are looking at what insurance will cover for affected students and families, what other funding they might be receiving through other fundraising efforts like GoFundMe accounts, and waiting to see what the remaining balance is, she said.
Once all of the funding is distributed, Tobin said University Advancement will report how the funds were dispensed. It’s a process that she expects will take up to a year.
“It just takes time to do that and do it well to maximize the impact of every dollar given,” Tobin said.
Officials are still receiving donations for the Spartan Strong Fund, but Tobin encourages anyone looking to help to send donations to the Support Our Spartans Student Emergency Needs Fund that was already in place before the shooting. The fund supports students facing unexpected financial or other emergency needs. Learn more and donate at www.givingto.msu.edu/crowdpower/support-our-spartans.
Contact Mark Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Nearly $1M raised for Spartan Strong fund to aid MSU shooting victims