The Hope Center

#RealCollege Conference 2022

#RealCollege Conference 2022: #RealChange for Students
Friday, September 16 – Sunday, September 18, 2022
Rutgers University–Camden
Campus Center Building | 326 Penn St. | Camden, NJ

Early Bird pricing for in-person + virtual attendee tickets close Monday, July 25.

Have a #RealChange idea for students? Submit a session proposal by Friday, June 17 for priority consideration!

About the #RealCollege Movement

Educating students beyond high school continues to be essential to America’s economic recovery, strength as a democracy, and our ability to compete for talent on the global stage. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation grapples with longstanding equity challenges that keep students from enrolling in college, earning a credential, and achieving their full potential. Nearly 3 in 5 college students struggle to access basic needs such as food and housing, and millions of students lack access to essential resources, including healthcare, childcare, transportation, technology, and more.

Student basic needs insecurity disproportionately affects students from systemically marginalized backgrounds and is hampering college attainment for those who need it the most. Over the past several years, the #RealCollege movement has made immense progress in helping institutions of higher education create ecosystems to support students’ basic needs. During our continued recovery, it is imperative that higher education stakeholders focus on systemic and sustainable change that builds a world in which students have access to all the resources they need to meet their basic needs and succeed in higher education.

About the Conference

The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice is holding the 5th annual #RealCollege Conference—organized in partnership with Believe in Students—in-person and virtually September 16–18, 2022 at Rutgers University–Camden in Camden, New Jersey.

This year’s #RealCollege Conference will convene leaders across policy, research, and practice to focus on driving systemic federal, state, and local change to meet students’ basic needs and advance equity in higher education outcomes. We are engaging cross-sector thought-leaders to provide actionable guidance, strategic insight, and practical expertise to drive structural policy reforms to meet #RealCollege students’ basic needs.

The #RealCollege Conference 2022 will have a program representing diverse perspectives, experiences, skills, and backgrounds. The conference agenda will focus on actionable change in the following topic areas:

  • Financial aid for non-tuition costs: Federal and state efforts to make college more affordable by addressing students’ non-tuition costs for food, housing, course materials, transportation, child care, health care, and more.
  • Public benefits access for students: Improving student access to public benefit programs, including conducting outreach, and addressing eligibility restrictions that impede students’ basic needs security and create administrative burdens.
  • Pandemic-era reforms: Federal and state pandemic-era supports and flexibilities that have helped students, including emergency aid, cash assistance, tax benefits, and flexibilities in public benefit programs.
  • Physical and mental health: Disparities in access to and delivery of physical and mental health care for students; and
  • Data and evidence on basic needs: Building the evidence base on the impact of students’ basic needs insecurity and related interventions on enrollment, persistence, and completion.

Session Proposals

The #RealCollege Conference team seeks innovative sessions proposals to drive the structural change #RealCollege students need! Ideal sessions leverage research, best-practice evidence, and the expertise of students and practitioners to advance systemic change for basic needs at the institutional, state, or federal level. Sessions that engage attendees’ expertise, provide diverse insights, and offer practical guidance for changemakers to drive structural reforms in their communities will be prioritized.  

Priority deadline for session proposals is June 17. Final deadline is Friday, July 1, 2022, 9AM ET.

Scholarship Information

In an effort to make the #RealCollege Conference 2022 accessible, our corporate partners are sponsoring full and partial registration, hotel, and travel scholarships. (Thank you!)

To be considered for a full or partial scholarship, please apply by Thursday, June 16, 2022. If you apply, you will be notified by Friday, July 15, 2022.

See what the #RealCollege Conference looks like and why it matters

Learn more about the #RealCollege Movement.

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Partnership & Vendor Booth Opportunities

Please explore our partnership options for the #RealCollege Conference and let us know how we can collaborate and advance the work to support students’ basic needs security.

For example, we have the following vendor booth opportunities:

$7,500 Corporate Vendor Booth

Your vendor booth gives you the opportunity to be in front of 500 advocates in the higher education space that are working to address student needs on campuses across the country. This is an opportunity to showcase your support of the movement and to market your product, solutions, and resources to attendees.

$2,500 Nonprofit Partner Vendor Booth

Your vendor booth gives you the opportunity to be in front of 500 advocates in the higher education space that are working to address student needs on campuses across the country. This is an opportunity to showcase your support of the movement and to market your product, solutions, and resources to attendees.

If you are interested in a vendor booth opportunity listed here, please contact Traci Kirtley at

*In-Person COVID-19 Safety Measures

The health and safety of our guests is our top priority. COVID-19 safety measures will be updated according to the Rutgers University-Camden health and safety guidelines at the time of the conference, as well as any federal, state, and local government rules, regulations, and recommendations. Attendees will be notified of these specific safety measures as we get closer to the conference.

We kindly ask that anyone joining us in-person who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 stay home to avoid contagion and notify Nia Fillo at right away so that we can accommodate for the change in plans.

Contact Information

Speaker/sponsor/exhibitor questions:
Tanya Mikkelson, Swaim Strategies, Conference Coordinator

Registration questions:
Nia Fillo, Swaim Strategies

Past #RealCollege Conferences

Check out our #RealCollege Conferences from prior years here.