NMC joins basic needs initiative to support students

TRAVERSE CITY — NMC this month joins a statewide initiative to help students connect with resources to support basic needs. The Michigan Community College Association was awarded a $442,000 grant to launch the initiative focused on improving student completion and success by addressing economic instability among students including access to food, housing, transportation, childcare and other basic needs.

The Michigan – Building Economic Stability Today (MI-BEST) effort is funded through June 2022 by a grant from the Los Angeles-based ECMC Foundation as part of its Basic Needs Initiative, designed to address and alleviate basic needs insecurity among students. National survey findings reported that 45 percent of respondents had been food insecure in the past 30 days, 56 percent had been housing insecure in the previous year and 17 percent had been homeless during that year.

NMC will begin by forming a team of college personnel and community leaders. Dean of Students Lisa Thomas, NMC's project lead, said members will include executive leadership, advisers, faculty, development/fundraising staff, financial aid staff and community partners.

"What I would hope is we learn some ways to better structure or provide internal supports to our students,” Thomas said.

NMC has offered a food pantry since November 2017. It serves between 80 and 90 people per month. This year’s usage is on pace to equal the 2018 academic year, the first full year of operation, when 1,087 total people were served.
In addition to the food pantry, Thomas also has emergency textbook funds available, as well as gas cards and BATA passes for students with transportation issues. Now, accessing those resources is handled on a case by case basis, rather than systematically.

"We're going to take a deep dive to see what are the structures and processes in place at NMC to see what is supporting or what is a barrier to students completing their education,” Thomas said.

The Michigan Center for Student Success is leading the initiative for the MCCA and will partner with nationally-recognized organizations including the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement and Trellis Research along with Michigan-based organizations including the Michigan Association of United Ways, MiBridges, and Public Policy Associates to support Michigan’s participating community colleges.

“We know that the lack of access to basic needs is frequently the reason that students leave college,” said Erica Lee Orians, executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success at the MCCA. "NMC’s participation in this initiative is a critical component of our student success efforts.”

The Michigan Center for Student Success, founded in 2011, serves as a hub connecting leadership, administrators, faculty, and staff in their emerging and ongoing efforts to improve student outcomes, emphasizing linkages between practice, research, and policy. The Center has led statewide initiatives focused on reengaging adults, developmental education, transfer, veterans, and advising. The Center is part of the 16-state Student Success Center Network working with over half of the community colleges across the nation.

Release date: January 14, 2019

For more information:

Lisa Thomas
Dean of Students
(231) 995-1043


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination