SparkPoint played an integral role in planning and presenting at The Basic Needs Summit held in Sacramento, California on April 26 and 27.

Administrators, faculty, staff, an student leaders from community colleges across California came together to address the role we play and the collaboration needed to impact the alarming amount of our students who do not have their basic needs met. The summit featured a variety of workshops from leaders and innovators from across the state in which Director of SparkPoint and Career Services at Skyline College, Chad Thompson, was called on to present. Chad spoke about “Innovative Strategies in Taking a Holistic Approach to Overcoming Non-Academic Barriers”. The workshop was designed to educate on the challenges students face in the classroom when their basic needs are not met. He shared strategies to help students and their families overcome these barriers to achieve their educational and financial goals.

More than ever before, colleges are seeking innovative and best practices to address basic needs insecurity among their students. The California Community College Chancellors Office approved a new initiative that includes the formation of a workgroup to identify and share best practices regarding food, housing, and other basic need resources available to students, to assess gaps in resources. That group laid the foundation for what would become the Basic Needs Summit. The summit featured a powerful keynote presentation by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, founder of the Wisconsin HOPE LAB, which is the nation’s only transnational research laboratory seeking ways to make college more affordable. She shared information gathered from a cross-section of colleges across the country, which Skyline College proudly participated in. She also shared information that detailed how the price of attending college is higher than ever while the average family income has become stagnant. Part-time jobs don’t cover as many costs as they used to and competition for these jobs has risen which negatively affects students with impacted schedules. California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley also participated in the summit and discussed the role that administrators and campus leadership play in addressing these issues and meeting the needs of students. His speech and attendance at the summit reinforced the position of the Board to engage issues of basic needs on campus. The San Mateo Community College District was well represented having staff and leadership from all three campuses, as well as the district office in attendance.

Students who face hunger, malnutrition, unstable living situation, or homelessness will struggle to reach their full potential in a classroom. Changing the way we address, interact, and intervene on behalf of these students can make a monumental impact in students’ lives and the lives of their families. We continue to look to improve the way we serve these students and remove the barriers they face to reach their goals.

For more information regarding the SparkPoint at Skyline College, the Food Pantry or the Benefits Office, please contact the SparkPoint at 650-738-7035 or

For more information on the summit visit

Written by Raul Amaya

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