Texas Tech University

It's OK to Ask for Help

Haleigh Erramouspe

August 10, 2023

The Raider Relief – Advocacy and Resource Center offers a range of resources to provide comprehensive support for students navigating the financial challenges of attending college.

This story is part of a series from the Office of Communications & Marketing spotlighting programs you can support during Texas Tech University's upcoming Day of Giving, scheduled for Aug. 15-16. For more information, visit the Day of Giving website.

There is no denying the cost of living has increased. From groceries and rent to household items and beyond, budgets have had to expand as nearly everything has become more expensive.

This reality hits hard for many college students.


At Texas Tech University, the Raider Relief – Advocacy and Resource Center (RR-ARC) has risen to the challenge of helping students navigate and mitigate the financial challenges that arise while attending college by streamlining access to three student centers: Raider Relief, Raider Red's Food Pantry and Red To Black® Peer Financial Coaching.

Until recently, the three units worked independently, but combining them under RR-ARC allows the center to provide students with a comprehensive support system that meets all their needs.

In addition to these programs, the RR-ARC is developing a Former Foster Youth (FFY) unit, which will begin its offerings in fall 2023. This unit will advocate for and support students who have a lived experience in the foster care system. 

“We want the center to be a space where students know it is safe to ask for help,” said Ariana Hernandez, director for RR-ARC. “That's ultimately the goal – to make sure students feel supported throughout their time at Texas Tech. It can be hard to focus on academics when you are facing basic need challenges. We want to provide the resources they need so they can focus on why they are here – to earn a degree from Texas Tech.”

Ariana Hernandez
Ariana Hernandez

However, providing for student needs has become more challenging in recent years. As Texas Tech's student population has grown, combined with a changing financial landscape, the RR-ARC has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students using its services.

The number of visitors to Raider Red's Food Pantry more than doubled from 800 in 2021 to 2,000 students in 2022. Additionally, they had nearly 500 applications for Raider Relief emergency funding.  

“As students are coming in, it appears they are experiencing a lot more financial challenges and expenses and need to be aware of these programs,” Hernandez said.

How the Units Work

Each of the units at the RR-ARC has unique offerings for students which can be used individually or combined depending on whether the needs are short- or long-term.

Students with short-term needs are typically directed to Raider Red's Food Pantry where they can select from a wide variety of non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products. 

They also have snack stations around campus with various foods and drinks students can swing by and grab to hold them over – no questions asked. These snack stations also have information and a QR code directed to Raider Red's Food Pantry for students who may need more.

“We do some outreach for the food pantry, but the word travels for those who need it,” Hernandez said. “We have lines, especially on the Fridays and Tuesdays when we are open, and they wrap around the food pantry.”

Students who visit the food pantry are asked to complete a survey before they select their items in which they indicate if they have short- or long-term needs. If their needs are long-term, then they are referred to a RR-ARC case manager where they discuss how Texas Tech and other Lubbock community programs can help support them.

One of those programs housed at RR-ARC is Raider Relief which connects students with resources on and off campus to meet food, housing, financial, education and basic-living needs.

A large component of Raider Relief is its emergency funding. Whether routed to RR-ARC through the food pantry, an online form or another avenue, students with long-term needs or those facing an unexpected financial challenge can work with a case manager to determine the best resources available. If necessary, they can apply for emergency funding, up to $1,000, to cover those needs.

Students who receive emergency funding are required to take a Red To Black® Peer Financial Coaching class. 

The class is a nationally recognized model program staffed by students pursuing Personal Financial Planning degrees. They work with other students to achieve their financial goals. Often, these student coaches are better suited to recognize and understand the needs and concerns of fellow students.

While each of the units – Raider Red's Food Pantry, Raider Relief and Red to Black® Peer Financial Coaching – can be used independently, the leaders at RR-ARC have developed a system where the units and staff for each work together to ensure all a student's need are met.

“Every case is unique,” Hernandez said. “When we meet with students, we have a long discussion to figure out what is really going on and then match them with the resources best suited to for them. It's very fulfilling to not only help them through this process and college experience, but also to be a part of the campus community in a way that is inclusive and creates a sense of belonging for them as well.”

How You Can Help

While the staff at RR-ARC has adapted to provide support and stability to meet growing need among students, they want to continue to do more, and donors in the Red Raider community have the opportunity to help them do that.

Whether it is a gift that allows the RR-ARC to stock the food pantry, bolster the emergency fund or expand the financial planning program, the impact donors can have through this program will have a resounding effect on the lives of students who need it most.

“I believe that as the center continues to grow, so will the impact that we have on our students,” Hernandez said. “You never know what your monetary donation will do for them, and I know if anyone appreciates your support, it is definitely these students who just need a bit of help.”

To make a donation to the Raider Relief – Advocacy and Resource Center or for more information on Texas Tech's Day of Giving opportunities, please visit the Day of Giving website.