Mendocino College received $188 thousand in grants to support students’ access to basic needs such as food, housing, transportation, healthcare and education.
Assembly Bill 132 (the Postsecondary Education Trailer Bill) provides $100 million in one-time funding to help California community colleges provide comprehensive basic needs services to reduce equity and achievement gaps among traditionally underrepresented student populations across California.
According to the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 50% of California community college students faced food insecurity, 60% faced housing insecurity, and 19% faced homelessness within the past year. A mid-pandemic survey, administered by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges indicated the pandemic exacerbated students’ basic needs insecurity: 67% of student reported higher levels of mental health distress, and 40% reported dealing with a loss of income resulting in their inability to pay for housing expenses. These needs, when unmet, easily and often lead to student crises and, without timely and significant intervention at an individual level, frequently leave students in extraordinarily difficult positions. Often these students are forced into unfortunate and unnecessary choices, to address their crisis or to continue enrolling in classes to complete their educational journeys.
“Students shouldn’t have to worry about being able to afford their next meal,” said Janelle Meyers, Director of Community Relations & Communication. “They cannot properly focus on their academics if they’re struggling with meeting their basic needs. The Basic Needs Department serves as a hub where students can feel safe and comfortable asking for resources that keep them moving towards their educational goals.”
To better support Mendocino College students, the Basic Needs Department will:
- Increase student access to nutritious and sufficient food.
- Connect students to resources to find safe, secure and adequate housing.
- Promote sustained mental and physical well-being and social-emotional support.
- Provide connections to affordable transportation assistance.
- Supply resources for personal hygiene care.
- Offer emergency funds.
- Deliver access to affordable and reliable internet access as well as technology devices.
Mendocino College has already begun laying the groundwork for a successful Basic Needs Department by:
- Adding staff capacity by creating a Basic Needs Liaison role to an office or team.
- Working closely with internal student support programs such as Financial Aid, Counseling, CalFresh Outreach, the college Food Pantry, and local community resources to ensure access to support in real-time.
- Establish clear pathways with instructions on navigating services to reduce barriers to accessing services.
- Creating an inviting webpage as a one-stop-shop for students experiencing challenges meeting their basic needs.
To learn more about the Mendocino College Basic Needs Department, visit www.mendocino.edu/basic-needs. If you are part of a local organization that can offer basic needs assistance to Mendocino College students and would like to be added to our resource list, please contact Naoto Horiguchi at (707) 467-1081.