Inaugural capacity-building cohort to support students’ basic needs

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

UNC Charlotte joins 27 higher education institutions across the country to help launch the first #RealCollege Institutional Capacity-Building Cohort (ICBC), a program by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice to assist colleges and universities to retain students who need food and housing.

“The impact of COVID-19 magnified an already existing problem, which is that too many college students are in crisis when it comes to basic needs, like having enough food for the week or keeping a roof over their head,” said Kevin Bailey, vice chancellor for the UNC Charlotte Division of Student Affairs. “Sharing our collective institutional knowledge helps us address these challenges together to better support our most vulnerable student populations.”

The cohort will create an ecosystem for developing solutions to complex problems, to empower leaders to impact organizational change and to build connections with other colleges. Member institutions will build their capacity for assessment, analysis and social support systems for students.

“The ICBC cohort will provide new and lasting connections for all member institutions as we explore the best practices for assisting students with food, housing, and the hidden challenges of degree completion during the pandemic,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, president and founder of the Hope Center. “This national cohort will move our research into action, building a diverse exchange of ideas and cohesion in our efforts.”

The cohort begins this month and runs through May 2022, with learning modules focused on assessment, support, driving state and federal policy and advocacy and supporting the basic needs ecosystem. 

Each member institution will be represented by leaders including administrators, staff, faculty and students. In addition to Bailey, representatives from UNC Charlotte include:

  • Nicole Peterson, associate professor, anthropology
  • Elizabeth Racine, professor, public health sciences
  • Mindy Sides-Walsh, director, leadership and community engagement
  • Steve Coppola, assistant provost, institutional research
  • Larry Gourdine, director, student assistance and support services
  • Tiera Ray, junior finance major and Africana studies minor

Sessions will offer deep analysis of the Hope Center’s research and annual surveys, which are the nation’s largest and longest-standing rigorous assessment of students’ basic needs.

This project is made possible by its member institutions as well as grants from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ECMC Foundation.