Helping those living on the edge

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Students struggling with homelessness or unexpected expenses will get a little more help at some Washington community colleges.

In Washington, two new programs will help financially struggling students. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) awarded nearly $2 million to colleges for the Student Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SEAG) and the Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness Pilot Program (SSEH).

“So many of our students are living on the edge. An unexpected car repair or medical bill can force them to drop out of college,” Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC executive director, said. “These grants recognize that living expenses are a type of educational expense; they go hand-in-hand. These grants will help students stay in school and achieve their dreams.”

The two grant programs were established by the state Legislature during the 2019 legislative session.

Sixteen community and technical colleges were awarded funds from the SEAG program. That funding can be used to help students pay for unexpected bills and basic living expenses, like emergency car repairs, medical bills, food, childcare, transportation, rent and utilities.

Four community and technical colleges and two universities are receiving funding for the SSEH program. Colleges can use the funds to help students with short-term housing or housing assistance; laundry facilities, storage and showers; reduced-price meals; technology; and case-management services.

Edmonds Community College was awarded funding from both grants.

About 50 Edmonds CC students reach out annually for housing or housing referral help, according to the college’s foundation. The college offers wrap-around direct and referral support to students experiencing homelessness, including the development and operation of Shepherd’s Village, an encampment of six tiny homes adjacent to campus that are reserved for homeless Edmonds CC students.

As part of the SSEH grant, the college and the foundation will be exploring additional sites to build more tiny houses for homeless students.

With funding from the SEAG, Edmonds CC will establish the We’ve Got Your Back: Student Assistance Program. An office will be established to streamline the application process for emergency assistance. The college also plans to launch an outreach campaign to address the stigma around asking for help and inform students and employees about the program.

“Too often we look at education success beginning and ending with academics, but it’s so much more,” Edmonds CC President Amit B. Singh said in a release. “Many factors are involved, and these need to be addressed as part of a more holistic approach.”

See the full list of grant recipients here.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.