Hungry to Learn

Measuring Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education

Last fall, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab fielded a groundbreaking survey at 70 community colleges around the country in order to assess rates of food and housing insecurity among community college students.  We produced a report, Hungry and Homeless in College, that revealed that one in three community college students experienced hunger, half were housing insecure, and 13 to 14 percent were homeless.  That study built on several prior studies we conducted with community college students and students at public, four-year colleges, including Hungry to Learn, a study discussed in the New York Times.

These surveys are shaping a national conversation about students’ basic needs and the challenge we face in improving college retention.  Institutions are using the data to support fundraising efforts, rethink programming, and advance state and federal policies.

Please join us

Last fall, 70 colleges across the country partnered with the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and ACCT to achieve a greater understanding of their students’ material needs. The results of this study, published in the report Hungry and Homeless in College, showed that two in three students were food insecure, one half were housing insecure, and 14% were homeless.

We invite you to join us in this year’s survey. This opportunity is open to any college or university in the United States, regardless of sector or type.

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 across the nation. Your college will also receive a report on your own results, which you can utilize to serve your students, raise funds for their support, and other related purposes.

Details

The survey instrument was constructed by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab based on our extensive experience studying vulnerable students.  It will be fielded in fall 2017 via an online platform. 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 the survey in order to obtain useful results.  Therefore, participating institutions must provide $1,000 in incentives to students.  Specifically, each participating college will promote student participation through an incentive drawing that will award $100 incentives to 10 students who competed the survey. Participating colleges must agree to administer the survey in the first 4-6 weeks of fall semester by sending at least three prescribed email invitations with survey links to all enrolled students.

You can direct your questions to the project coordinator, Anthony Hernandez, at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab by email at hernandez26@wisc.edu.

To join this year’s effort, please complete the Acknowledgement of Participation, which is available by clicking the corresponding tab above, by THURSDAY, JUNE 1.

Background

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab aims to survey students to assess their levels of food and housing security. 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 incentive awards and provide institutions with contact email addresses for those students.
  4. Provide each participating college with a school-level summary report of its students’ survey results in the spring of 2018.

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 2017. 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 an incentive drawing for students who wish to participate in the survey. Students who wish to be entered into the incentive drawing will be asked to provide a contact email address. Winners at each institution will be selected using a random drawing conducted 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 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.

 

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 aims to survey students to assess their levels of food and housing security. The survey will be conducted atcolleges nationwide. 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.

  1. What is the Wisconsin HOPE Lab?
  2. 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.

  1. How is this study funded?
  2. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab is providing funding for this study.

  1. When will the study take place?
  2. Colleges will need to register by Thursday, June 1, 2017. The survey will be fielded in in the first 4-6 weeks of fall semester. Analysis and writing will begin in November 2017. The HOPE Lab will release and publicize the main report in early spring 2018 and deliver short reports to colleges in late spring 2018.

  1. What are participating colleges in this study expected to do?
  2. 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 students within the first few weeks of classes during the fall of 2017. 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 incentive drawing will be asked to provide a contact email address. Winners at each institution will be selected randomly conducted 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 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. 
  1. What will colleges receive for participating?
  2. Each college will receive a summary report for its students’ survey responses. These reports will be delivered in late spring 2018. 

  1. Will there be help available during survey administration?
  2. 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.

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

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

  1. How is student confidentiality being protected?
  2. 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. 

  1. Why do colleges need to contribute money for this project?
  2. The investment of $1,000 by each participating 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.

  1. How will the incentive incentives work?
  2. In order to be entered into the incentive drawing, students will be asked to provide an email address at the end of their surveys. Students are not required to provide an email in order to complete the survey, although only those who provide an email address can be eligible for the incentive drawing. After the survey period ends, researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab will use a random drawing to select ten incentive winners at each 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. 

  1. If we have questions, who can we contact?
Please feel free to contact the project coordinator, Anthony Hernandez, at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab by email at hernandez26@wisc.edu