Cal fifth-year senior safety Elijah Hicks has created an emergency grant program for UC Berkeley students struggling to make ends meet on campus.
Hicks, who raised more than $60,000 through his Intercept Poverty Foundation to help families feed their school-aged children during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is focusing his social efforts on his fellow Cal students.
His new grant program intends to provide $500 to $700 for students “to help them overcome some financial roadblocks,” including with food or car repairs or computer issues.
"Those are things that I know affect people from studying so I just wanted to be able to create this and find a way to help students be able to focus on school and not be so worried about how they’re going to get their next meal or how they’re going to get their laptop fixed,” Hicks said this week.
Hicks, who grew up in Long Beach, has 11 siblings. Some of them have attended college and others have been forced to drop out in order to find work to support themselves, Hicks said.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a scholarship, but even with that I know how tough college could be,” he said. “It’s something that’s very close to me and I want to do what I can to bring attention to the issue of poverty on campuses and do my best to let people know so we can all chip in and help.”
Hicks stressed that there are lots of students at campus who are teetering on the edge of poverty.
“Being here at Cal and you’re going to class with people who go to bed not eating anything or just eating Top Ramen.” he said. “I relate to that struggle because those are the things I had to do growing up.”
Hicks’ Intercept Poverty Foundation website cites statistics that say 38 percent of college dropouts exit school because of financial pressure.
Hicks said it’s just not in his nature to observe a problem and not try to help find a remedy.
“I’m not the type of dude to just complain about issues and problems. I’m going to try to find ways to help solve them,” he said.
Hicks’ website details how the emergency grant money can be spent:
What is Eligible?
- Transportation/Car Repair (not gas or insurance)
- Public transportation/Travel
- Food (grant limited to $500)
What is Not Eligible?
- Tuition and fees
- Required course materials
- Borrowed money from friends and family
Hicks and the Bears take on No. 9 Oregon at Autzen Stadium on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Hicks is expected to make his 39th career start for the Bears.
Named to the preseason watch list for the Senior Bowl all-star game, Hicks graduated in December of 2020 with a degree in American studies and earned a certificate in the school’s entrepreneurship program this summer. He is on track to secure another post-graduate certificate in business administration in December.
A member of the AFCA All-State Good Works Team in 2020, Hicks has been nominated for two awards this year recognizing his work in the classroom and on and off the field.
In September he was named a semifinalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy®, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
Earlier this week, he was selected as a nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. The Courage Award, presented since 2002 by the Football Writers Association of America, honors a player displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.
Cover photo of Elijah Hicks by Kyle Terada, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo