New national program offers Hope to M State students

September 23, 2021

M State is one of 27 colleges nationwide selected for a program designed to assist colleges and universities in retaining students who need food and housing support and who were made more vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The colleges and universities, which span the nation from New York to Washington, are part of The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice’s first #RealCollege Institutional Capacity-Building Cohort.

Using data from The Hope Center’s evidence-based research studies, ICBC colleges will explore best practices for assisting students with food, housing and the hidden challenges of completing a degree during the pandemic, according to the center.

“Colleges and universities across the country are realizing from their own student data that degree completion is much more than aptitude alone,” said M State Dean of Students Shawn Anderson. “When students experience insecurities in their basic needs, it hurts their ability to focus on their education.”

The pandemic has increased the number of people struggling to meet their basic needs, he said, and that’s reflected in M State’s student body.

“Student support is more than access to federal and state financial aid programs and academic support – it’s supporting the whole student,” Anderson said. “We’re committed to supporting students as they work to complete their degrees, and participating in this cohort will help us make informed decisions using the data we have and the data we’ll collect.”

The cohort begins working this month and runs through May with the involvement of administrators, staff, faculty and students at each college. The project is made possible by its member institutions and grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the ECMC Foundation.

Also participating from Minnesota is Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

The Hope Center describes itself as an action research center working to transform higher education into a more effective, equitable and impactful sector using applied scientific research, technical assistance, policy advising with state and federal governments, and strategic communications. It is based at Temple University in Philadelphia.