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2023 Student Basic Needs Spark Grants Funding Cycle Informational Webinar

August 24 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Student Basic Needs Spark Grants Funding Cycle

Thursday, August 24, 2023 | 10:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. PST
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As students pursue higher education in what is becoming an increasingly precarious economic environment, the Michelson 20MM Foundation is committed to supporting  organizations and institutions that are working to increase persistence and graduation rates by helping students meet their basic needs. Basic needs are defined as a student’s ability to adequately meet their food, housing, mental health, sleep, child/dependent care, hygiene, and transportation requirements.  

In support of these efforts, our next cycle of the Michelson Spark Grants program will focus on Student Basic Needs and will run from September 5, 2023, to September 19, 2023. The cycle seeks to fund macro-level projects that support systems-level strategies, create impact at scale, and inform public policy. 

Funding Cycle Details

The Spark Grants Program is available to United States-based nonprofits and seeks to provide a just-in-time grantmaking process to fill urgent needs for higher education organizations, which are well aligned with our focus areas. For this round of funding, we are focusing our impact on organizations doing work in California—organizations whose work does not impact California will be ineligible for this opportunity. 

We will be awarding grants up to $25,000 to nonprofits and educational institutions whose efforts include one of the focus areas outlined below. We are particularly interested in innovative efforts that catalyze systemic solutions in support of the basic needs of college students; this could include, but is not limited to, housing, food insecurity, health/mental health, and childcare.

During this funding cycle, we will not pursue projects that would result in direct assistance to students, such as emergency student aid, laptops and hotspots for remote learning, or food and housing vouchers. While we realize there is a tremendous need among students for direct support, at this time we are leveraging our funding to effect broader systemic change.

Proposals where Michelson Spark Grant funds are part of a larger overall project with multiple funding streams are welcomed.

Focus Areas

We are interested in supporting projects that advance:

  • Leveraging technology solutions to maximize and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of basic needs supports and capture student academic success. This could include:
    -Systems to help assess student basic needs by providing data that captures the need for additional support and tells the story of who is accessing basic needs services
    -Streamlining deployment and information about basic needs supports, emphasizing local resources—both on and off campus—for students taking classes online or in-person.
    -Providing support for students during “off-hours”
  • Incorporating basic needs within the campus culture and climate. This could include efforts that strengthen the continuum of care for students’ basic needs. Topics may include:
    -Support for students transitioning between two-year to four-year institutions
    -Identifying students who have stopped or dropped out due to basic needs issues and assisting them with re-enrollment
    -Using student voices and perspectives to inform student basic needs efforts, policies, programming, etc.
  • Innovative approaches and promising practices that promote positive academic outcomes for students receiving direct financial assistance aimed at mitigating student basic needs concerns. This could include research, evaluation, or efforts that scale the impact of public benefits assistance, tax credits for eligible students, universal basic income, and approaches to liquidating institutional HEERF dollars. 

Learn More

To learn more, join Senior Program Manager Dr. Queena Hoang and Director of Programs and Operations Ryan Erickson-Kulas on August 24, 2023, for an informational webinar, which will provide an in-depth overview of the Spark Grants program, highlight past awardees, and share detailed updates on the student basic needs funding cycle.


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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August 24
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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Michelson 20MM Foundation
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