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/philimpact/images/ECMC-Foundation-Reversed.jpgsite://minnstate/philimpact/images/ECMC-Foundation-Reversed.jpgminnstateECMC-Foundation-Reversed.jpgECMC-Foundation-Reversed.jpg124665613450ECMC logoECMC Foundation Supports Student Basic Needs

ECMC Foundation Supports Increased Access to Address Student Basic Needs across all Minnesota State campuses

ECMC Foundation Supports Increased Access to Address Student Basic Needs across all Minnesota State campuses


In 2018 and 2019, Minnesota State participated in a national survey administered by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University focused on basic needs security among college and university students. The results found more than one-third (37%) of Minnesota State students surveyed experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days, nearly 50% experienced housing insecurity within the previous year, and 18% experienced homelessness within the previous year. These data clearly show that basic needs insecurity is widespread among students and constitutes a significant barrier to student success. It is also a barrier to equity and inclusion: research has consistently shown that basic needs insecurity is disproportionately experienced by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with other underrepresented and underserved identities.

As a result, Minnesota State colleges and universities engaged in many collaborative strategies to address basic needs insecurity informed by the experiences of students. The work of students, faculty, and staff at Minnesota State colleges and universities has sparked efforts at the system level, in partnership with statewide student associations and with college- and university-affiliated foundations, to pursue strategies to provide all students at all colleges and universities with resources to address basic needs insecurity. Connecting students with available resources, both on campus and in the community, is a central strategy for addressing these barriers and is critical to achieving Minnesota State’s Equity 2030 goal to eliminate gaps in education outcomes by race, generation status, and socioeconomic status by the year 2030.

To support Minnesota State’s work addressing basic needs insecurity, ECMC Foundation awarded Minnesota State a two-year $700,000 grant to fund a unique partnership between Minnesota State and Greater Twin Cities United Way. This partnership leverages United Way’s 211 resource helpline to provide students with referrals to basic needs resources, including resources for mental health, food, housing, transportation, childcare, emergency grants, etc., available on campus and in their local community. 

ECMC Foundation is a national foundation working to improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation. The Foundation makes investments to remove barriers to postsecondary education, build the capacity of institutions, systems and organizations, and transform the postsecondary ecosystem.

“ECMC Foundation envisions a country where all learners have access to quality educational and career opportunities and the necessary supports to succeed,” said ECMC Foundation Senior Program Director Sarah Belnick. “Students often come with unmet basic needs, and we believe that the innovative partnership between Minnesota State and Greater Twin Cities United Way could serve as a national model of how higher education institutions and community stakeholders can work together to increase student access to social services and community support.”

The partnership established by Minnesota State with United Way’s 211 resource helpline provides students at all Minnesota State colleges and universities with easy access to basic needs resources available at their college or university and in their local community. Students will be able to contact 211 via text, chat, or phone 24 hours a day and seven days a week to receive free and confidential referrals to resources that address a wide range of basic needs. 

Minnesota State’s partnership with United Way’s 211 resource helpline was initially established through a one-time legislative appropriation to Minnesota State to help address basic needs insecurity experienced by Minnesota State students. The grant from ECMC Foundation will support work with the existing United Way 211 resource helpline and model to align with campus resources throughout all 54 campus communities. It also supports an evaluation that will provide feedback loops with students to help determine its effectiveness in addressing basic needs and suggest areas for improvement in real time.

“This partnership represents the first time we have used Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 resource helpline to support post-secondary students,” said John Wilgers, President & CEO, Greater Twin Cities United Way. “We are honored to support students throughout their educational journeys, and I applaud the leadership of Minnesota State for their approach to the challenges students face through equitable access for all, which will fuel lasting, positive change in our community.”

“Unmet basic needs have been impacting our students’ ability to succeed in school,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “Our approach encourages collaboration across the system and with community partners to advance a coordinated and connected ecosystem of care and support, reducing barriers for students, and increasing their opportunity for success.”