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EMU donors giving every April graduate $599, every fall freshman $400

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

A group of Eastern Michigan University donors has banded together to provide its own stimulus package.

GameAbove announced this week that it will give every Eastern Michigan student who graduated this month a $599 gift, as well as a $400 gift to each incoming freshman in the fall.

The gifts, particularly for the graduates, are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The job market is practically nonexistent, which could have students shifting paths from career-finding to post-graduate studies.

Eastern Michigan president Dr. James Smith.

"Due to the recent downfall in the job market, many graduates may take an interest in pursuing a postgraduate degree," Eastern president James M. Smith said in a statement. "GameAbove's gift to the graduates comes at a great time, helping provide additional financial resources to further their education with the university. We extend our deepest gratitude to GameAbove and its members for their continued support of our students and faculty. And, without question, the gift to incoming students recognizes the incredible financial hardship that has been placed on students and their families due to this crisis."

GameAbove is funding the gifts thanks to a collection of donations that have totaled about $2 million.

The gifts for recent graduates — undergraduates and graduate students, about 2,270 in all — will be deposited into Eastern Michigan student accounts by May 8.

The graduates can either withdraw the gift in full, or partial, or use any of it on university expenses. The gift is $599, because at $600, it becomes eligible for tax withholdings.

The $400 gift for freshmen will be deposited into their accounts in the fall.

"Graduation is about celebrating great efforts, hard work and goals accomplished," said Keith J. Stone, a GameAbove advisory board member and Eastern graduate. "This special graduating class deserves this recognition and our full attention. The current pandemic has already tested their resolve to deal with very challenging times in our world of fear and loss.

"This recent life experience will certainly strengthen their lives forever as they move forward, seeking new hope and lasting successes beyond our wildest imagination."

The gifts come with no strings attached, though GameAbove is encouraging the recipients to pay it forward down the road, if they can.

GameAbove already had donated more than $13 million in the past six months to help fund multiple university initiatives on campus and off.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984