Basic Needs Initiative

Basic Needs Initiative

Fulfilling Basic Needs—Supporting the Whole Student 

Basic needs security among students enrolled in postsecondary education is critical for ensuring strong academic performance, persistence and graduation, and students’ wellbeing. These needs include food and housing, in addition to childcare, mental health, financial assistance and transportation.

The Basic Needs Initiative (BNI) was created in response to research from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice (Hope Center), California State University, MDRC and the National Bureau of Economic Research, among others, which found that basic needs insecurity is prevalent among students at two- and four-year campuses and impacts students’ persistence and graduation outcomes. National survey findings reported that 45% of respondents had been food insecure in the past 30 days, 56% had been housing insecure in the previous year and 17% had been homeless during that year

Through the BNI, ECMC Foundation made $3.1 million in grants to a national cohort of seven organizations and institutions working with two- and four-year campuses. During the three-year initiative, the cohort of grantees—consisting of postsecondary institutions, community-based organizations and research teams—will undertake a wide array of projects, including launching new initiatives, scaling existing evidence-based programs and conducting research studies, to further the field’s knowledge of supporting students’ basic needs.

ECMC Foundation is the first national postsecondary education funder with a designated grantee cohort addressing basic needs among postsecondary students. In addition to supporting programs, collaborations and research, the BNI will provide grantees with a learning cohort to encourage widespread adoption and advancement of best practices in addressing basic needs. The cohort will be facilitated by an evaluator who will guide discussions among participating grantees, establish shared metrics, measure the progress of their work and produce a rigorous program evaluation.

ECMC Foundation aims to better understand how organizations use high-impact and evidence-based practices and to establish shared metrics and strategies. Using its lessons learned from the BNI cohort, ECMC Foundation’s goal is to develop and share scalable practices that best address the issue of basic needs insecurity.