In the fall 2020 semester, nearly three in five college students experienced basic needs insecurity. Despite the significant need for support, over half (52%) of students did not apply for help, because they didn’t know how. Many students still don’t know help is available. Faculty and staff that want to assist students don’t always know how, or where to send them. Even though many colleges and universities have established basic needs supports, there’s still a massive gap between the number of students with basic needs insecurity and those who utilize support services.
One person or office can’t address the utilization gap. Campus communities can come together as a task force to create an ecosystem to spread information and support students. A good ecosystem allows key players to have a voice in designing strategies to bring solutions to students. It also lets advocacy influence the implementation of institutional policies and practices to meet students’ basic needs. Ultimately, an ecosystem of support helps students thrive and develop a higher sense of belonging.
This guide provides insights and recommendations for practitioners on how to build and engage a basic needs task force to strengthen students’ ecosystem of supports and advance systemic change.