Pre-pandemic, 1:10 California State University Students and 1:5 students in California’s community colleges faced housing insecurity. In 2021, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that half of #RealCollege survey respondents in two-year colleges and 2:5 in four-year institutions reported housing insecurity—numbers that become grimmer in regards to formerly incarcerated students. 

As students who lived on campus found themselves homeless in the last two years and many others lost all or some of their income while the world quarantined, civic leaders responded with historic investments in basic needs. In California, Governor Newsom earmarked $500 million of the state’s budget for colleges and universities to increase and/or improve affordable housing options for students. Additionally, California’s efforts included establishing a grant process for two- and four-year colleges to apply for and receive basic needs funding and rent caps for low-income students.

These investments are a drop in the bucket, though, and often only apply towards full-time students, which excludes many community college students and working students. Within the California State University (CSU) system, Project Rebound students are particularly vulnerable to housing insecurity. To support their students and the increased demand for affordable housing, Project Rebound, a 2021 Michelson Spark Grantee that connects formerly incarcerated students with resources, will expand its student-centered housing support model. 

Through a Spark Grant, Project Rebound will develop a data-informed toolkit designed to help the 14 Project Rebound campuses across the state identify and provide housing for students. The toolkit will leverage data gathered by Project Rebound and data on housing insecurity among California State University students to establish a method to collect data at the campus level, tools to find and apply for grants, tips on how to build community partnerships, private and public housing resources, and more. 

Leaders from six of the 14 CSU Project Rebound campuses will develop the toolkit, which will be available to all 14 campuses later this year. The long-term goal is for all 23 CSU campuses to have the tools necessary to provide housing support not only for Project Rebound students, but also for other vulnerable student populations. Beyond the CSU system, Project Rebound’s work could serve as a model to support formerly incarcerated students nationwide.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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