The city of Rochester will examine ways to remove barriers to basic needs for post-secondary completion and workforce success by building equitable pathways to get there.
Chosen from a pool of 400 applicants, Rochester is one of seven city teams selected to participate in an 18-month technical assistance initiative offered by the National League of Cities. Rochester joins Chula Vista, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; and San Diego.
Students attending two-year colleges, often community colleges, have higher rates of basic needs insecurity, an April 2019 study by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found. These rates are higher for marginalized students, including African Americans, students identifying as LGBTQ, and students who are independent from their parents or guardians for financial-aid purposes.
Nearly 86,000 students participated in the survey; 45 percent were food insecure in the prior 30 days; 56 percent were housing insecure and 17 percent were homeless in the previous year. The study defines food insecurity as a limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food in a socially acceptable manner. Housing insecurity includes the inability to pay rent or utilities, or the need to move frequently.
Supported by the Kresge Foundation, the project will help Rochester develop goals and an action plan to address the barriers to basic needs. Additionally, the NLC initiative expects participating cities to:
- engage key partners to achieve desired results;
- use data to inform practice;
- confer with national experts and philanthropic leaders;
- document and share best practices and lessons learned; and
- connect mayors’ broader education and workforce development agendas.
The initiative runs through June 2021, concluding with a national policy briefing in Washington, D.C., where mayors, city leaders, and their partners will share lessons learned and strategies.
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.