New Projects to Fight Basic Needs Insecurity Among #RealCollege Students

With support from Arnold Ventures, we are launching a new partnership with two nonprofits to address food and housing insecurity on college campuses.

Too many students leave college without credentials because life, logistics, and a lack of money got in the way. Our research reveals that #RealCollege students are the new majority, but they are often ignored.

Swipe Out Hunger­– a student-led movement to end college hunger – partners with institutions to donate “meal swipes” to a fund that supports students experiencing food insecurity. The Swipe Out Hunger/Hope Center project will introduce a randomized controlled “nudge” intervention to help assess how the Swipe Out Hunger program affects the academic outcomes of students who receive donated meals, and document how these programs function around the country.

“The Hope Center helped shepherd the higher education basic needs movement by providing the foundational research that has fueled the work of practitioners and policymakers,” said Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, Rachel Sumekh. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity, thanks to Arnold Ventures, to formally partner with them to build upon the existing body of research in this movement.”

United Way of King County (UWKC)­­– a nonprofit invested in helping students improve their futures ­– operates eight “benefits hubs” at community colleges in Washington State. These programs offer financial coaching, assistance for students applying for financial aid and other government benefits, free tax preparation, and emergency aid. The UWKC/Hope Center project will explore how the benefits hubs function in partnership with the colleges and whether they increase students’ use of public benefits programs and boost academic performance.

“We are excited to partner with The Hope Center to evaluate our Benefits Hub model. We hope this work will inform the design of programs and policies that help students meet their basic needs. We are grateful to Arnold Ventures for this opportunity”   said Lauren McGowan, Sr. Director, Ending Homelessness and Poverty at United Way of King County.

Arnold Ventures is investing nearly $800,000 in this effort. Our project team includes many national experts with backgrounds supporting low-income students. DVP-Praxis, led by Dr. Derek Price, is leading the UWKC implementation study, and Dr. Douglas Webber is providing econometric support to the evaluations.

“Students are humans first, and their basic needs must be met if they are going to graduate,” said Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, founding director of the Hope Center. “We are grateful to Arnold Ventures and our partners for their help in the search for viable, effective, and sustainable solutions.”