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ECMC Foundation Launches Basic Needs Initiative (PND)

November 22, 2019

By Philanthropy News Digest Staff

The Los Angeles-based ECMC Foundation has announced the launch of an initiative designed to address basic needs insecurity among low-income students.

According to research conducted by California State University, MDRC, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, and others, insecurity around basic needs is common among low-income students at two- and four-year colleges and universities and in many cases influences their graduation outcomes. To address the problem, the foundation has launched a Basic Needs Initiative and announced grants totaling $3.1 million over three years to universities and organizations working to fill the student need gap on campus, including food and housing security, financial assistance, and transportation. Grant recipients include Arkansas Community Colleges, which will use its grant to scale its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach efforts across twenty-two community colleges, and the Auburn University Foundation, which will use the funds to pilot and scale a food insecurity initiative at ten partner universities in Alabama.

Grants also were awarded to Ithaka S+R in support of research on holistic measures for student success; John Burton Advocates for Youth, which provides technical assistance around the use of state-funded efforts designed to help students experiencing homelessness transition into stable housing; the Michigan Community College Association, in support of new strategies for addressing non-academic barriers to student success across twenty-six campuses; the University of Texas at San Antonio, which, in partnership with San Antonio College, is building a statewide network of Hispanic-serving institutions working to advance evidence-based needs initiatives; and the United Way of King County, in support of efforts to connect students to basic needs supports and financial education.

With the goal of developing and sharing best practices, the Basic Needs Initiative will facilitate discussions among grantees, monitor and measure the progress made by the initial cohort of grantees, and conduct an impact evaluation. Lessons learned from the activities of grantees also will inform ECMC Foundation's strategic grantmaking and be shared with the postsecondary education and philanthropic communities.

"For students from low-income backgrounds, whose academic prospects are already precarious, the experience of homelessness is destabilizing and makes college completion unlikely," said John Burton Advocates for Youth project director Debbie Raucher. "We are grateful to ECMC Foundation for recognizing the urgency of this issue and dedicating resources to address it."

"While efforts that address students' basic needs exist, there has been a tremendous opportunity for philanthropic leadership and strategic investment devoted to the issue," said ECMC Foundation president Peter Taylor. "That is why ECMC Foundation is proud to support the first initiative of its kind to address student basic needs — and, ultimately, help students cross the finish line to graduation."

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