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Tackling the Student Basic Needs Crisis

Jan 28, 2021 | 20 Million Minds


Image by Swipe out Hunger

Image by Swipe out Hunger

COVID-19’s economic ramifications have brought the pre-existing student basic needs crisis to a tipping point. Pre-COVID, 50% of college students suffered from food or housing insecurity, and, each year, 3 million students drop out due to financial issues concerning less than $500. Recognizing the need for immediate action, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, and his wife, Alya Michelson, have launched a new initiative under the Michelson 20MM Foundation. 

The Student Basic Needs Initiative seeks to increase persistence and graduation rates through systems change, technological innovations, research, and policy that helps students meet their basic needs. To do so, Michelson 20MM has invested in programs that address specific subsets of individuals pursuing a post-secondary degree: pregnant and parenting students, students experiencing homelessness, and students suffering from food insecurity or other forms of financial instability. As an example, California State University, Long Beach, is developing a training manual and best practices model, through funding from 20MM, that will further establish their campus as family-friendly. Similarly, a grant awarded to The Institute for College Access and Success will result in a comprehensive study analyzing the true cost of college in California.

Dr. Michelson sees significant opportunities for philanthropy to alleviate this crisis: “Whether it’s through research funding, the creation of model legislation or supporting food pantries, philanthropy is an important part of the solution.” The long term solution, however, is developing a permanent funding stream to address the non-tuition costs of college.

To learn more about Dr. Michelson and the 20MM Foundation’s commitment to addressing the student basic needs crisis and ways to alleviate it, click here.