Student Basic Needs

We seek to increase persistence and graduation rates through systems change, research, and technological innovations that help students meet their basic needs.


The voices of students so they are seen as humans first


For permanent funding that supports Student Basic Needs


Efforts that streamline student access to public social services


Best-in-field initiatives that help students meet their basic needs

Even prior to COVID-19 students have experienced homelessness and food insecurity at our colleges and universities
California Community Colleges
1:2 Food Insecurity
1:5 Homelessness
California State University
2:5 Food Insecurity
1:10 Homelessness
University of California
2:5 Food Insecurity
1:20 Homelessness
*Data provided by Cal Matters

Our Work

Pregnant and Parenting Student Initiative

A platform for programmatic and policy efforts, the Pregnant and Parenting Student Initiative aims to increase support for pregnant and parenting students at colleges and universities in California.


Examining statewide and national landscapes

Through a Michelson Spark Grant, the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC) is examining the statewide and national landscape of current structures, barriers, and processes that cause challenges and limit access to available public benefits resources for students, particularly programs that can help to mitigate student basic needs.

Compiling best practices and developing training manuals

In partnership with the Michelson 20MM Foundation, the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), is developing a training manual to establish a family-friendly campus model intended to scale across the CSU system. Along with the manual, CSULB is creating a Pregnant and Parenting Student-Ally training for staff and faculty on how to support Pregnant and Parenting students.

Understanding the student experience

The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), a Spark Grantee, is engaging California college students via surveys to better understand students’ experience in meeting their basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. TICAS will translate lessons learned into actionable items for stakeholders.

Establishing a permanent funding source

John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) is coordinating an awareness campaign focused on the need to establish a permanent funding source for basic needs centers at Community College and CSU campuses in California. The campaign highlights the importance of securing permanent funding for these basic needs centers by uplifting student’s voices, perspectives, and experiences.

Raising awareness of non-tuition costs of college

The Southern California College Access Network (SoCal CAN) is creating a student led Let’s Go to College education and awareness campaign focusing on addressing basic needs and the non-tuition costs of college. SoCal CAN is providing paid fellowship opportunities to five Let’s Go student leaders from five priority regions in California. The fellows will engage in a series of strategic actions aimed at uplifting the importance of meeting student’s basic needs.

Developing the first evidence-based and research-informed emergency aid application

Edquity, a Michelson Impact portfolio company, has developed the first evidence-based and research-informed emergency aid application. By using an algorithm to determine appropriate emergency aid distribution with an eye to maximize student retention, Edquity has the potential to transform the emergency student aid landscape. Through Edquity, students can complete an aid application within minutes, receive decisions in a few hours, and claim funds within the day.

Expanding Equitable Emergency Aid for CA Community College Students

With Edquity as our centerpiece, and in partnership with the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC), Michelson 20MM launched the first phase of the Equitable Emergency Aid Expansion for California Community College Students project. Through this effort, the FCCC completed a landscape analysis of California Community Colleges’ approaches to emergency student aid. FCCC and Edquity also adjusted Edquity’s platform for alignment with FCCC’s current emergency student aid platforms and other systemwide and college initiatives, vetted Edquity for all California Community College campuses, and established a system-level contract between Edquity and the California Community College system.

Our Partners

Edquity Logo
Edquity Logo

Stay Engaged

For more information about our Student Basic Needs initiative please sign up for our newsletter or reach out to Queena Hoang, Senior Program Manager, at

Additional Resources

  1. Recovering From 2020 Requires Supporting Students, Starting With Their Basic Needs (EdSurge, December 31, 2020)
  2. What Congress Could Do to Keep More College Students Enrolled (The Atlantic, December 27, 2020)
  3. An App for Student Emergency Aid Finds New Urgency During Pandemic (EdSurge, December 23, 2020)
  4. College Students Are Going Hungry — States Can Help (The Hill, November 21, 2020)
  5. How Swipe Out Hunger Is Trying To End Hunger Amongst College Students: An Interview With Rachel Sumekh (Forbes, November 20, 2020)
  6. College Food Pantries Have Grown Exponentially in Recent Years, an Attempt to Address Rising Food Insecurity. What Happens When Campus Is Closed? (The Counter, November 11, 2020)
  7. Pathways to Simplify and Expand SNAP Access for California College Students (The Century Foundation, October 29, 2020)
  8. Supporting Financially Stressed College Students During COVID-19 (Public Policy Institute of California, October 29, 2020)
  9. CalFresh During the Pandemic (Public Policy Institute of California, October 21, 2020)
  10. California’s Homeless Students Could Fill Dodger Stadium 5 Times, Study Finds (Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2020)
  11. Historic $100-Million Gift Will Help California Community College Students Most in Need (Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020)
  12. As Colleges Reopen, Soledad O’Brien Examines the Growing Student Hunger Crisis (Yahoo Life, September 13, 2020)
  13. Are You Eligible for Food Stamps Now? Maybe, but It’s Complex (New York Times, July 17, 2020)
  1. Basic Needs, Poverty, and Impact on Academic Success (California Community Colleges, November 2020)
  2. Beyond The Food Pantry: Supporting #RealCollege Students During COVID-19 (The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, March 2020)
  3. A Helping Hand: How the California Community Colleges are Addressing Insecurity (The Community College Equity Assessment Lab, February 2020)
  4. Emergency Housing, Food, and Financial Resources: For Undergraduates at California’s Public Colleges and Universities (California Homeless Youth Project, February 2020)
  5. #RealCollege 2020: Five Years of Evidence on Campus Basic Needs Insecurity (The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, February 2020)
  6. California Community Colleges #RealCollege Survey (The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, March 2019)
  7. Beyond Financial Aid: How Colleges Can Strengthen the Financial Stability of Low-Income Students and Improve Student Outcomes (Lumnia Foundation, March 2018)
  8. Study of Student Basic Needs (California State University, January 2018)