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Grants Focused on Basic Needs

November 20, 2019

By Madeline St. Amour, Inside Higher Ed

A Los Angeles-based foundation is giving grants to address the basic needs of students to seven organizations and institutions across the country.

The ECMC Foundation, an affiliate of the nonprofit ECMC Group in Minneapolis, is calling the project the Basic Needs Initiative, according to a news release. It will distribute $3.1 million to the institutions over three years to address issues like food and housing insecurity, childcare, mental health support, and transportation.

While there isn't a consensus on the exact number of college students going hungry, most agree that it is an issue.

“Today the education and philanthropic communities understand that basic needs security is crucial for postsecondary education success,” said Peter Taylor, president of the foundation. “While efforts that address students’ basic needs exist, there has been a tremendous opportunity for philanthropic leadership and strategic investment devoted to the issue. 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.”

The programs that will receive funding include:

  • Arkansas Community Colleges: Scale the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach model to enroll more students in public benefits programs and determine the impact of campus food pantries.
  • Auburn University Foundation: Partner with 10 four-year universities in Alabama to scale a program to address food insecurity with direct student supports.
  • Ithaka S+R: Research, design and report on measures for student success that include metrics on basic needs to raise awareness and create new success metrics.
  • John Burton Advocates for Youth: Reduce the number of homeless college students in California by providing technical assistance in using state funding to transition those students into stable housing.
  • Michigan Community College Association: Launch a program to create strategies that focus on nonacademic barriers to student success on all 26 campuses.
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio: Build a statewide network of Hispanic-serving institutions and help each institution develop basic needs and student success assessments.
  • United Way of King County: Expand the Bridge to Finish program in Seattle, which connects students to basic needs supports and financial education.

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