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ECMC Foundation Announces Nationwide Funding Strategy to Address Basic Needs Challenges among College Students

Grants and investments will aim to solve insecurities related to food, housing, childcare, mental health, financial assistance, transportation and more

November 16, 2023

LOS ANGELES—ECMC Foundation, a national postsecondary education funder, today announced a multi-year grantmaking commitment and a new strategy for its Basic Needs Initiative, which aims to decrease the number of postsecondary students experiencing basic needs insecurity by 10% by 2033. This goal is based on 2023 data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study that reveals that, across the nation, more than 4 million students are facing food insecurity and more than 1.5 million are facing housing insecurity. In addition to committing up to $6 million in grants in 2024 alone, the Foundation will use program-related investments to fuel promising innovations to help meet students’ most fundamental needs. The new strategy focuses on key three areas: growing data capacity, scaling effective practices and informing policy reform.

Basic needs insecurities comprise any lack of resources—or the fear of the lack of resources—that disrupt student learning, persistence and completion in postsecondary education. These most commonly include food, housing, childcare, transportation and technology, as well as physical and mental health services. Postsecondary students who face basic needs insecurities, particularly underserved students, are at heightened risk of leaving college without a credential, incurring debt and facing additional financial and basic needs challenges in later years.

“We envision a postsecondary ecosystem in which every student is basic needs secure throughout their academic journey and free from the isolation and despair that come from a lack of material supports,” said Jacob Fraire, president of ECMC Foundation. “Change must include individual institutions and system-wide reforms. We encourage other funders, policymakers, researchers and stakeholders across the higher education landscape to join us in this work to transform the postsecondary experience for the wellbeing of the whole student.”

The Basic Needs Initiative continues work by ECMC Foundation that began in 2019 to better design and implement solutions to basic needs challenges across institutions of higher education and among their students. The new strategy incorporates the latest research from the field and findings from the initiative’s initial grantmaking efforts to date. In line with ECMC Foundation’s broader approach, the initiative aims to relieve basic needs insecurities at a national, systemic level.

“For four years, the Basic Needs Initiative has thoroughly documented and begun to address an often-overlooked problem that prevents hundreds of thousands of students from achieving their academic goals. We’re excited to expand our efforts,” said Ireri Rivas Mier y Teran, ECMC Foundation program officer overseeing the Basic Needs Initiative. “Together with our partners, we will support diverse networks of stakeholders as they develop holistic solutions that ensure students have the resources necessary to complete their education and continue on to successful careers.”

The Basic Needs Initiative will issue two requests for proposals during 2024 to solicit innovative and evidence-based proposals. Letters of inquiry also will be considered on an ongoing basis, and our program-related investments team will work with nonprofit and for-profit organizations as they develop new solutions to this pervasive problem. Additional funding will be committed through 2027.

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