Dwight Hall Sponsors and Supports Student Responses to World Crises

Dwight Hall crisis response sponsorship supports Yale students’ efforts to address natural disasters, public health emergencies, humanitarian conflicts, and more. In fall 2023, Dwight Hall sponsored three student-led initiatives: Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief, Family Weekend Benefit Concert for Hawaii, and Earthquake Relief for Afghanistan. By providing a unique blend of resources–including fiscal sponsorship, strategic planning, and material resources–the Hall offers timely, adaptive, and specialized support to these student-led actions.  

Crisis response sponsorship fills a strong need on campus, where students are consistently mobilizing around social causes. Previously, the management of student-led emergency fundraisers and related initiatives had no formal process at Yale, and the university sought a hub to assist students with the financial and administrative elements of crisis response. Now, students seeking to launch emergency fundraisers are referred to Dwight Hall by the Yale College Dean’s Office and other university offices. 

The process for filing for a crisis response sponsorship is intentionally straightforward, recognizing the stressful and often traumatic conditions that catalyze students’ mobilization. Student organizers meet with Dwight Hall professional staff in an intake interview to discuss their campaign, submit essential information about their mission, team, and the type of support they are seeking from the Hall, and then (if applicable) Dwight Hall enters into an Agreement via a Memorandum of Understanding if it is necessary for the Hall to serve as a fiscal sponsor or agent for the receipt of contributions from donors and their distribution to relief organizations. After the student-led campaign is set up, Dwight Hall hosts all fundraising on its PayPal and Venmo, and a homepage for the campaign is created on the Dwight Hall website. 

“Dwight Hall made it very easy for us to set up our fundraiser for Pūnana Leo O Lahaina, a Hawaiian immersion kindergarten in Maui,” noted Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma ’25, one of the student organizers of the Family Weekend Benefit Concert for Hawaii. “I think the most helpful part of the process was sitting down for an in-person meeting to discuss how to run the fundraiser and iron out the details. We were able to set up a website to collect funds through Dwight Hall, and the experience and expertise of the Dwight Hall staff added a layer of security and professionalism to our fundraising efforts. Dwight Hall also handled transferring the donation to the receiving organization and streamlined the entire process overall.” 

The Hall also aided student efforts that expanded to other universities. When organizing the Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief campaign, Moroccan Yale students partnered with students at Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania. Dwight Hall’s fundraising platforms were collectively used by students at each of these universities, and the Hall’s staff offered expertise on the process of transferring funds to international organizations and nonprofits. A similar process occurred with the Earthquake Relief for Afghanistan fundraiser, which saw Yale undergraduates partner with students at Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, and Brown. 

Collaboration amongst Dwight Hall staff is crucial to the efficiency of the Hall’s crisis response programming. Dwight Hall Executive Director Peter Crumlish ’09 M.A.R. and Director of Community Outreach and Engagement Johnny Scafidi ’01 meet with students during the intake interview and manage communications throughout the sponsorship process; Finance Manager Morad Mokhtari organizes the setup of fundraising platforms and manages the collection and disbursement of funds; and Communications and Alumni Engagement Associate Barbara Mola ’22 works with students to create campaign homepages on the Dwight Hall website and promote the fundraisers through Dwight Hall and university communications channels. 

Here are summaries of the student-led initiatives that Dwight Hall sponsored in fall 2023, including context about each fundraiser and the net funds raised to date:

Ivy League for Morocco Disaster Relief 

Net Funds Raised: $9,047.34

“On Friday, September 8th, at night, a powerful earthquake (~7 on Richter’s scale at the epicenter) devastated the High Atlas Mountain area in Morocco—southwest of Marrakech—and hugely impacted the country as a whole. The death toll is at 2,901+ individuals, for 5,530+ injured. Unfortunately, the numbers might keep rising as authorities rescue survivors from the ruins. 

We are partnering with two organizations that are currently on the field: la Banque Alimentaire (Food Bank) and Al Baraka Angels. Their focus is to bring basic necessities to families in need. That means sustenance (food, water, non-perishables), a temporary shelter (tents), and hygienic products.

The situation is an emergency the likes of which Morocco has not experienced in over a century; our first step is emergency relief. Our primary goal is to relieve the affected communities and victims. You CAN help a family. Once more, NO donation is too small.”

Family Weekend Benefit Concert for Hawaii 

Net Funds Raised: $3,372.98

“In the wake of some of the deadliest fires in the history of the United States, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale Concert Band join forces today to support Lāhainā, Maui. As students ourselves, we hope that the funds we raise to aid in the reconstruction of ʻAha Pūnana Leo, a Hawaiian immersion school, will have a positive impact on the children whose access to education has been curtailed by this horrifying and tragic disaster. Hawaiian immersion schools are integral to the continuance and growth of Hawaiian culture and language, and especially in loss and hardship, it is absolutely necessary that students take pride and find joy in their cultural heritage. To support ʻAha Pūnana Leo and its mission of protecting and stewarding the Hawaiian language and culture through this time of need, every member of YSO, YGC, and YCB has donated to the cause. Thank you so much for joining us in this effort.”

Earthquake Relief for Afghanistan 

Net Funds Raised: $4,925.56

“We are a group of Afghan college students from the Ivy League institutions of Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, and Brown, working together to raise donations for the victims of the most recent earthquake in Afghanistan. The aftermath of a devastating 6.3 earthquake that shook Herat, Afghanistan, left more than 3,000+ people dead and many more injured, with many still buried in the debris. The tremors devastated over 1,350 homes, and the citizens of Herat are in urgent need of medical aid and household resources, adding another layer of sorrow to a country already marked by the scars of war and economic hardship.

Our fundraising initiative aims to bring together compassionate hearts worldwide, especially in Ivy League schools, to offer critical help in reconstructing broken lives in Afghanistan. All donations go to ASEEL, a non-profit working on the ground to give life-saving assistance to the earthquake victims in Herat. Each contribution can become a lifeline, offering solace and tangible relief to those striving to heal amidst the rubble. So, let’s be there for Afghanistan.” 

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Dwight Hall crisis response sponsorship is a part of the Advance pillar of Dwight Hall’s Engage, Grow, and Advance program delivery model, supporting innovative and collaborative projects that promote lasting change in New Haven and around the world. 

Students interested in crisis response sponsorship may email peter.crumlish@yale.edu and johnny.scafidi@yale.edu

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