Hungry to Learn


Association of Community College Trustees

Measuring Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education

In December, 2015, along with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the Healthy Minds Study at the University of Michigan, and Single Stop, we published a report, Hungry to Learn, which draws on a survey conducted at ten community colleges around the nation. We revealed the findings in the New York Times—one in five of the more than 4,000 students who answered our survey said that they were hungry and 13% were homeless.

The survey described in Hungry to Learn represented a significant advance in our knowledge of material hardship among undergraduates, but it was limited to only ten community colleges. Illuminating the true extent of the problem and beginning to address it will require data from a wide variety of institutions across the country. Human services agencies and policymakers must understand the nature and extent of material hardship, students’ coping strategies, and where to focus efforts to achieve the greatest impacts. This information is essential for helping college students facing material hardship to complete their degrees and break the cycle of poverty.

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the ACCT have partnered on this study to collect student-level survey data on food and housing insecurity across a large, national sample of 50-75 community colleges and to widely disseminate the results to colleges, policymakers, service providers, and researchers. The final report will inform colleges serving low-income students, and the communities where those colleges are located, about the extent of student food and housing insecurity. We hope that this information will help bring additional resources to struggling students and provide information about which students are most likely to need food and housing help in order to complete their diplomas. In addition, information from this project will help advance innovative policy solutions.

Please join us

Last fall, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab revealed the results of a survey conducted at 10 community colleges. We found that 20% of students were hungry, and 13% were homeless.

These are startling numbers. The purpose of this new study, “Measuring Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education,” is to find out if they are accurate. We also want to know if the prevalence of these issues varies across different parts of the country, or for certain student populations.

We invite you to become one of the up to 75 community colleges in this year’s survey.

The results will be shared in a report that will summarize findings across colleges (without connecting colleges to their specific results) and shared with key policymakers and service providers around the nation. Your college will also receive a report on your own results, which you can utilize to serve your students, to raise funds for their support, and for other related purposes.

Coverage of last year’s report appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, MSNBC, and many other major media venues. The survey data was used to advance a federal policy proposal, helped numerous community colleges fundraise for their own programs, and stimulated new efforts led by nonprofits around the country.

Details

This year’s survey was constructed by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and will be fielded in September 2016 on an online platform. It is short and to the point. We will provide a link to the survey and you will need to distribute that information to students, along with an invitation to participate.

It is critical to boost student participation in this survey beyond the 9% participation rate of last year’s survey. We are not charging institutions to join this effort but instead requiring that you commit to providing $1,000 for incentives to your students to participate.

You can direct your questions to the project coordinator, Anthony Hernandez, at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab by telephone at 818-625-5061 or by email at hernandez26@wisc.edu

If you would like to join this year's effort, please complete the Acknowledgement of Participation, which is available by clicking the corresponding tab above, by Friday, August 26.

Background

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) aim to survey students to assess their levels of food and housing security. We are including up to 75 community colleges. The resulting report will inform colleges, and the communities where those colleges are located, about the prevalence of student food and housing insecurity. We hope that this information will help bring additional resources to struggling students and provide information about which students are most likely to need food and housing support in order to complete their diplomas. In addition, information from this project will help advance innovative policy solutions.

Responsibilities of survey partners

This Agreement establishes expectations of the respective partners.

Responsibilities of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab

  1. Provide technical assistance to participating colleges throughout recruitment, registration, and survey administration.  Technical assistance will be available via a project website and individual assistance with the Wisconsin HOPE Lab staff. 
  2. Provide institutions with a web-based survey, a distribution email, and a survey link for directing students to the survey.
  3. Randomly select ten students from each institution to receive $100 awards and provide institutions with contact email addresses for those students.
  4. Produce a summary report of findings to be disseminated in spring 2017 in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees. 
  5. Provide each participating community college with a school-level summary report of its students’ survey results in the spring of 2017. 

Responsibilities of participating community colleges

  1. Send recruitment emails to enrolled students for participation in the study. Partner colleges are expected to send these emails to the students in the first few weeks of classes during the fall of 2016. It is recommended that colleges send an email once weekly for the first three weeks of the beginning of the fall semester.
  2. Provide $1,000 in student incentives. This money is to be used as ten $100 prizes in a random drawing for students who wish to participate in the survey. Students who wish to be entered into the random drawing will be asked to provide a contact email address. Winners at each institution will be selected randomly by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, who will then share the contact email addresses of student winners with the colleges. Colleges will then contact students and disburse incentives.
  3. Complete a brief survey about the administration of the survey. This survey will give researchers context for understanding the survey sample student responses.  
  4. As part of the application materials to participate in this study, we are asking each community college IRB office to sign a form indicating that they waive their right to review the study. The UW-Madison IRB will provide human subjects approval for this study. 

To participate in this survey

To be considered for selection into the survey described above, please fill out the information at the bottom of this page. For questions or technical assistance, please contact Anthony Hernandez at hernandez26@wisc.edu or call (818) 625-5061.

 

Who to Contact for Help:

Project Coordinator: Anthony Hernandez, Research Specialist, Wisconsin HOPE Lab
Email: hernandez26@wisc.edu
Phone: 818-625-5061

Principal Investigator: Jed Richardson, Acting Director, Wisconsin HOPE Lab
Email: jed.richardson@wisc.edu
Phone: 608-890-2946

 

FAQ

  1. What is the purpose of this study?
  2. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) aim to survey students to assess their levels of food and housing security. We are building up to 75 community colleges. The resulting report will inform colleges, and the communities where those colleges are located, about the prevalence of student food and housing insecurity. We hope that this information will help bring additional resources to struggling students and provide information about which students are most likely to need food and housing support in order to complete their diplomas. In addition, information from this project will help advance innovative policy solutions. 

  3. What is the Wisconsin HOPE Lab?
  4. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab is the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education. 

    We are at the forefront of efforts to raise awareness and increase knowledge of undergraduates struggling with food and housing insecurity. Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, now a Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, founded the Lab and continues to lead our efforts as a consultant.  For more information, please see wihopelab.com.

  5. How is this study funded?
  6. The Kresge Foundation is providing funding for this study. 

  7. When will the study take place?
  8. Community colleges will register to participate in August 2016, and the survey will be fielded in September. Analysis and writing will begin in November 2016. The HOPE Lab and ACCT will release and publicize the main report in early spring 2017 and deliver school reports in late spring 2017.

  9. What are participating community colleges in this study expected to do?
  10. Community colleges interested in participating in the study should complete the Acknowledgement of Participation, which explains institutions’ responsibilities:

    1. Send recruitment emails to enrolled students for participation in the study. Partner colleges are expected to send these emails to the students in the first few weeks of classes during the fall of 2016. It is recommended that colleges send an email once weekly for the first three weeks of the beginning of the fall semester.
    2. Provide $1,000 in student incentives. This money is to be used as ten $100 prizes in a random drawing for students who wish to participate in the survey. Students who wish to be entered into the random drawing will be asked to provide a contact email address. Winners at each institution will be selected randomly by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, who will then share the contact email addresses of student winners with the colleges. Colleges will then contact students and disburse incentives.
    3. Complete a brief survey about the administration of the survey. This survey will give researchers context for understanding the survey sample student responses.  
    4. As part of the application materials to participate in this study, we are asking each community college IRB office to sign a form indicating that they waive their right to review the study. The UW-Madison IRB will provide human subjects approval for this study. 
  11. What will community colleges receive for participating?
  12. Each college will receive a summary report for their students’ survey responses. These reports will be delivered in spring 2017. 

  13. Will there be help available during survey administration?
  14. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab will provide technical assistance to participating colleges throughout recruitment, registration, and survey administration. Technical assistance will be available via a project website and individual assistance with the Wisconsin HOPE Lab staff. 

  15. Do we need to submit this survey to our IRB?
  16. As noted above UW-Madison’s IRB has approved this study. Given time constraints, we are asking community colleges to sign off that their IRB office does not need to review the study. 

  17. Do we need to collect any data for this study?
  18. No. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab will collect the survey data via the online platform. 

  19. How is student confidentiality being protected?
  20. Students will complete the survey on a secure, online survey platform. Survey data will be securely transferred to the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, where it will be stored on secure servers managed by UW Madison information technology specialists.  Only HOPE Lab researchers involved in this study will have access to survey data. Main reports and school reports will only contain summary measures of student responses. 

  21. Why do colleges need to contribute money for this project?
  22. The investment of $1,000 by each participating community college is to boost student participation in order to ensure the most accurate estimates of food and housing insecurity.  All funds go to the students.

  23. How will the incentive lottery work?
  24. In order to be entered into the random drawing, students will be asked to provide an email address at the end of their survey. Students are not required to provide an email in order to complete the survey. After the survey period ends, researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab will use a random drawing to select ten winners at each community college. Participating institutions will be notified of the winning students. Colleges will then disburse the award funds. Colleges will not be provided with any survey data for those winning students.

  25. If we have questions, who can we contact?
  26. Please feel free to contact the project coordinator, Anthony Hernandez, at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab by telephone at 818-625-5061or by email at hernandez26@wisc.edu