DSC launches initiative to eradicate student hunger and homelessness
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2016) - Daytona State College is launching a comprehensive
initiative to eliminate hunger and homelessness among its students as part of DSC's
ongoing work to remove barriers to academic success.
The college has unveiled a 10-step plan, developed as a collaborative effort among college faculty, staff, President Tom LoBasso and his executive staff, and the District Board of Trustees, led by its chair, Forough Hosseini.
"The entire college community deeply believes that it is our responsibility to give every student the chance to pursue a better life through education," Mrs. Hosseini said during a September meeting announcing the initiative. "This is not a hand-out. It is a leg up based on a philosophy that is deeply rooted in our institutional culture, and we will work tirelessly to remove any barriers to student success."
DSC President Tom LoBasso said hunger and homelessness often overwhelm students seeking to improve their lives through higher education and workforce training. "This population of students is more likely to drop out," he said. "By addressing these needs, DSC will help them achieve their fullest potential."
While a college campus is perhaps the last place to expect hunger and homelessness, these are very real barriers to student success at colleges and universities nationwide. A survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges across the country revealed that half of those who responded are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity. Fully 20 percent are classified as hungry and 13 percent are homeless. The survey was administered jointly by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and the Association of Community College Trustees.
Here at home, 16 percent of DSC students who responded to a recent survey indicated that they have experienced homelessness, 8 percent within the past year, said Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Kenneth Matthews. Sixty-nine percent of DSC students live at or below the poverty level, and as many as 80 homeless students register for college classes at DSC each year.
The college initiative tackles the issue through a well-organized and thoughtful series of steps that brings together the college community, non-profit organizations and area businesses.
The 10-step plan includes:
- Creating a one-stop student-assistance resource center where students can get answers to counseling, scholarship, transportation, books, jobs, meals and shelter questions;
- Offering transportation assistance by partnering with Volusia County and Votran to provide free bus passes for homeless and dual-enrolled high school students to attend any DSC campus;
- Providing short-term shelter for qualified students by working with area hotels, as well as securing beds at Hope Place for students in need of longer-term care;
- Providing food for our students in need, through a) DSC's new Food Pantry, b) Sodexo, with a limited number of vouchers for free meals, and packaging daily leftover food, c) partner with agencies for food bags for students with food shortage;
- Assisting with healthcare needs through local hospitals to provide free care for DSC homeless students;
- Covering test fees by using scholarship funds and donations for homeless students for tests required for workplace certifications;
- Assisting with textbooks needed for class by using Follett scholarship funds and potential future donors for a special book fund for homeless students;
- Increasing student support through faculty/staff mentorships, specialized classes and workshops, as well as other services on campus by community-based social service providers;
- Working with area businesses to provide full- and part-time jobs to our homeless students, in addition to DSC work-study jobs;
- Making funding for our hunger and homelessness initiative a legislative priority during the 2017-2018 state budget development process. Part of the funding request will be to create a new one-stop location on the Daytona Beach Campus for the Center for Women and Men.
Mrs. Hosseini noted that the goal is to make Daytona State the first college in America to eradicate homelessness and hunger among its students. "I am confident that our work will be successful because it is the right thing to do, and because we as a community make the greatest progress when we work together."
NOTE: DSC Associate Director of Admissions Beth Hoodiman is the contact to assist
homeless students, (386) 506-3619, Beth.Hoodiman@DaytonaState.edu.