While there is a national and state-wide need to address housing insecurity among postsecondary students–1:5 California Community College students experience homelessness—many efforts to help house students fail to consider the commuter and non-residential educational institutions, such as community colleges.

Understanding this, the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges has embarked on a groundbreaking project. Focused on bridging the housing gap for students, they will use a Michelson Spark Grant to explore innovative solutions and create a guide for educational institutions to connect community college students with housing. 

Exploring Housing Feasibility with a Spark Grant

Housing is one of the most complex and expensive basic needs students and their families face. In fact, recent surveys indicated that 55% of Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) students experience housing insecurity while 19% are homeless.

Acknowledging the siloed efforts within different systems and sectors, the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges will seek to understand how to work across California’s higher educational systems to collaboratively house students—a feat not yet achieved at scale in the state. With over 220,000 students across nine colleges, the LACCD stands as the largest community college district in the county. Leveraging its scale, footprint, and strong relationships with California State University (CSU)  partners, LACCD is uniquely positioned to tackle the challenge of cross-college housing, while also drawing from their deep understanding of the needs of students from various backgrounds.

The Spark Grant aims to explore the feasibility of leveraging four-year-university housing for community college students and tackle factors such as prohibitive costs and misalignment with local student needs. It will also examine regional differences, acknowledging that proximity matters to students; however, the learnings will have relevance beyond Los Angeles. Initially, the focus will be placed upon nine LACCD campuses and their relevant state-funded, four-year feeders; ultimately, reducing housing insecurity among students will result in improved academic success and strengthened ties between four-year universities, LACCDs, and the community.

The project’s findings will result in a playbook that will not only bridge the connections between community college students and housing at four-year universities, but also it will identify current policies that would require structural change at the state level. With such data in hand, statewide policies could be improved to better support vulnerable students.

The Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges’ grant is not just about addressing immediate housing needs; it’s a visionary effort to transform how educational institutions collaborate, innovate, and support students in achieving their academic goals. Through research and strategic partnerships, this project has the potential to reshape the landscape of student housing in California and beyond.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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