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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students have been complex, profound, and widespread. Millions of students in California are working hard to achieve their college dreams, yet many are also struggling to find the right information and resources necessary to access and continue their education. In the absence of one centralized place students can go to for information and resources, they are left to piece together what they need, adding to their stress and anxiety.

To address this information gap, the Michelson 20MM Foundation is proud to support the work of the Southern California College Access Network (SoCal CAN) through a Spark Grant. For more than fifteen years, SoCal CAN has diligently sought to increase the rate at which students from underserved communities access and complete post-secondary education. Most recently, SoCal CAN’s virtual hub, Let’s Go to College CA, has prioritized California students’ needs during the pandemic.

Led by students and informed by college access professionals, Let’s Go provides timely information and resources in the areas of evolving campus plans, financial aid, distance learning, meeting basic needs, mental health support, transfer options, campus climate, academic tips, and more. Students can engage with Let’s Go online, via social media, by text, and through virtual programs. The target audience includes diverse students across all public higher education segments, with a focus on the needs students from low-income families, first-generation college-goers, communities of color, and undocumented immigrants. 

Let’s Go is both a resource hub and a vehicle for building community among students while amplifying student voices. Students are spotlighting their needs, discussing critical factors impacting their success, and assessing higher education’s response to the pandemic. Time and time again, college affordability, basic needs, and mental health and wellbeing have risen to the top of the list. 

Through the Michelson Spark Grant, SoCal CAN will establish a Let’s Go to College CA student fellowship that will address basic needs and the non-tuition costs of college. The fellowship includes paid opportunities for 5 Let’s Go student leaders from priority regions in CA. The five fellows will be trained to raise awareness of SNAP benefits and will educate the general public regarding the challenges students are facing meeting their needs largely due to the non-tuition costs of college. Additionally, the SoCal CAN will develop materials for students and higher education administrators concerning basic needs and solutions. 

We look forward to working with SoCal CAN to address the Student Basic Needs crisis. To learn more about the Student Basic Needs crisis, we invite you to visit our YouTube channel, which features a webinar with the nation’s leading experts on the subject. 

Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Learn more at www.20mm.org.