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Virtual Policy Summit 2022

September 2022

Keynoted by U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary James Kvaal and New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Brian K. Bridges, our first ever Virtual Policy Summit was conducted entirely online, and addressed urgent policy challenges and opportunities to advance equity in higher education outcomes.

The summit covered the landscape of policy actions and opportunities impacting student basic needs security in state agencies and legislatures, federal agencies, the White House, and Congress. The summit addressed rulemaking, legislation, executive actions, grants, appropriations, and more.

Let’s come together and build a higher education system in which students are humans first.


Keynote by The Honorable James Kvaal, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Under Secretary of Education Kvaal described the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to meeting student basic needs and making college more affordable. He also recognized the impact of basic needs insecurity and mental health challenges on student success, and called on states and colleges to help students access public benefits, collect better data, and address funding inequities.


Supporting Parenting Students on College Campuses

One in five college students are parents while in college, yet parenting students are traditionally less likely to receive attention and support. Ensuring parenting students are supported while they navigate balancing parenting and their postsecondary education is important. Parenting students are more likely to face additional time and financial demands than non-parenting students, including barriers in accessing child care. In 2019, the Hope Center found that 3 in 4 parenting students found child care to be unaffordable. This session features child care researchers, institutional leaders, and policy experts to discuss how we can best support parenting students and address the campus childcare crisis through CCAMPIS and other federal programs.

  • Dr. Kalani Palmer, Associate Professor of Professional Studies in Education and Project Director of CCAMPIS at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  • Tanya Ang, Managing Director, Advocacy at Higher Learning Advocates

  • Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Senior Fellow, Postsecondary Education at National Skills Coalition  

  • Brittani Williams, Senior Policy Analyst at The Education Trust

  • Dr. Carrie Gillispie, Senior P-12 Research Associate at The Education Trust


The Future of Emergency Aid

Access to emergency aid can be the difference between staying enrolled in a degree program and leaving school due to an unexpected or emergency expense. Emergency aid has been a bedrock of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while several states and institutions have created and maintained their own emergency aid programs for students. This session explores lessons learned from emergency aid delivered through three rounds of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) funding, examines what emergency aid looks like at the state level, and how federal and state policymakers can make emergency aid a permanent fixture in higher education policy.

  • Antoinette Flores, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education

  • Brennan Barber, Education Policy Adviser, Office of Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN)

  • Jennifer Dellinger, Policy Associate, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges



Making SNAP Work for Student Food Security

Food insecurity among college students is widespread, a phenomenon far better understood now than two decades ago when Congress enacted rules that make access to the federal SNAP program difficult for college students to obtain. Congressional legislators are now seeking to simplify this Rube Goldberg eligibility machine. At the state level, policymakers, state agencies, and advocates are finding new opportunities to make SNAP more widely available and educate students about its availability. What opportunities are achievable, and how can they be achieved?

  • Ashley Burnside, Policy Analyst, CLASP

  • Chris Baker, Legislative Strategist, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

  • Patricia Baker, Senior Policy Analyst, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute


Advocacy & Civic Engagement in Support of Students’ Basic Needs

Supporting students’ basic needs and making college more affordable through federal and state policy requires sustained advocacy that centers student voices. Policy change is most likely to occur when it is strategically pursued and backed by an engaged community of students, college leaders, staff, and service organizations who organize through nonpartisan voter registration and other civic engagement activities. This session describes key strategies for effective advocacy to support students’ basic needs, including storytelling, presenting data and evidence of basic needs insecurity, meeting with policymakers, engaging students through Federal Work Study, and conducting nonpartisan voter engagement activities required under the Higher Education Act.

  • Kristin McGuire, Executive Director, Young Invincibles

  • Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Swipe Out Hunger

  • Michael Dannenberg, Senior Fellow, College Promise

  • Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge at Civic Nation

  • Alex Edgar, Director, University of California Berkeley’s ASUC Vote Coalition


Supporting Reproductive Justice for Students in Higher Education

Access to abortion care is a basic need for any student who can become pregnant, as well as their immediate network of support. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision threatens the basic needs security and reproductive justice of students everywhere, and disproportionately impacts systemically marginalized students. This session explores the impact of anti-abortion rulings and laws on student basic needs security, and opportunities for policy action to protect students’ access to abortion, including a new California state law requiring access for medication abortion at state universities, privacy laws to prevent disclosure of student’s private health care decisions, Title IX rulemaking at the federal level, and other policy levers available to states and the Biden-Harris Administration.

  • Lauren Jee, Chief of Staff, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

  • Laurel Sakai, National Director of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

  • Connie M. Leyva, California State Senator (CA-20)

  • Cindy Cruz, Western States Program Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity


Federal and State Action for Promoting Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention on College Campuses

Nearly half of all college students are struggling with clinically-significant anxiety or depression, but 60 percent of those struggling students have not had any mental health counseling or treatment in the past year. Better mental health is essential for students to persist in college, graduate, and become healthy and productive leaders in our communities. The student mental health crisis urgently calls for federal and state policy action and investments. This interactive session discusses the latest data on the state of mental health among college students, provides a federal mental health policy update, and highlights federal funding opportunities for mental health and suicide prevention in higher education.

  • Shannon Rose, Campus Advisor, JED Foundation

  • Manuela McDonough, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, JED Foundation

  • Dr. Sara Abelson, Senior Director of Education and Training Services, The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University


Addressing Student Housing Insecurity

Access to stable, affordable housing is essential for students to learn and succeed while enrolled in college. Yet nearly half of all students experience housing insecurity, 1-in-7 experience homelessness, and lack of access to affordable housing remains a driver of structural racial inequity. This session discusses ways that innovative partnerships can address housing instability and insecurity for students, and how state and federal policymakers can remove barriers to students experiencing homelessness and build robust and sustainable investments to address student housing challenges. Speakers also discussed an innovative subsidized housing model, the Affordable Rents for College Students (ARCS) program, and its impact on community colleges and students, and how lessons from the ARCS program can inform federal, state, and local policy.

  • Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, Schoolhouse Connection

  • Pam Blumenthal, Director, Affordable Rents for College Students, College Housing Northwest

  • Ryan Sturley, Director of Real Estate and Development, College Housing Northwest

  • Traci Simmons, Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Mt. Hood Community College

  • Javier Gomez, Student, Portland Community College

  • Matthew Rasmussen, Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program Coordinator, Oregon Department of Human Services


Benefit Hubs: Leveraging Campus Resources to Meet Students’ Basic Needs

Studies have found college students to be less likely to apply for and receive federal and state benefits than other comparable adults. Many colleges have responded to student basic needs insecurity by setting up benefit “hubs” or one-stop centers that are staffed by experts in assessing student eligibility for benefits, and helping students apply for these benefits. Several states have recently enacted legislation requiring benefits hubs on college campuses and provided funding for basic needs coordinators. This session explores how state and federal policymakers can support the further development of benefit hubs and how they can be structured for maximum impact and effectiveness.

  • Emily Portillo, Program Manager, United Way King County

  • Mariela Barriga, Director of Student Success, Highline College

  • Rebecca Ruan-O’Shaughnessy, Vice Chancellor of Equitable Student Learning, Experience and Impact, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office 

  • Elizabeth Guzman Arroyo, Statewide Director of STEP and Pathways to Opportunity, Portland Community College