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Kresge partners with Wisconsin HOPE Lab to better understand hunger, homelessness on college campuses

Education, Housing, Human Services

Madison, Wisc. – The Detroit-based Kresge Foundation’s Education and Human Services Programs announced this week a $200,000 grant to the Wisconsin HOPE Lab to support student-level data collection from a large, national survey of 75 community colleges on food and housing insecurity.

The HOPE Lab, the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education, is partnering with the Association of Community College Trustees to identify participating schools and launch the survey this month as the fall semester begins.

 “One of the challenges of attracting attention to and investment in food and housing insecurity on campuses is the lack of data,” said William F. L. Moses, managing director of Kresge’s Education Program. “Currently, the federal government doesn’t collect this information, and most previous studies on the topic have focused on individual campuses.

“We know anecdotally that hunger is a serious problem that keeps many low-income students from graduating – especially those who attend schools in expensive, urban areas.  We need comprehensive, national data to reveal the true extent of this issue, so funders, policymakers and human services providers can understand the need and better target their investments and interventions.”

In 2015, the Lab produced a first-of-its-kind report, titled “Hungry to Learn,” based on a survey of 10 community colleges on hunger and food insecurity on their campuses.

That survey showed 20 percent of the 4,000 students questioned were hungry and 13 percent were homeless.

The Lab, in partnership with the American Council of Education, had previously petitioned the U.S. Department of Education to add questions about hunger and homelessness to its national higher education surveys, which are administered every four years. Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, who founded the Lab, led the Hungry to Learn report, and will co-lead this new survey, said the request will be considered for the survey’s 2020 cycle.

“That’s why this survey is so important in the interim,” said Goldrick-Rab. “This information is essential to help college students facing these hardships complete their degrees and break the cycle of poverty. We’re pleased to have Kresge’s support; now the Lab can collect this data, get it in the hands of decision makers, and start to better address this pervasive but too often overlooked issue.”

The results of the survey will be disseminated widely in spring 2017.

Kresge’s Education Program works to promote post-secondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students living in the United States and South Africa. Its Human Services Program supports the advancement of human services to accelerate social and economic mobility for people with low income in America’s cities.