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Michelson Spark Grant Helps Swipe Out Hunger Get CARES Funds to Students

This article was originally published on Michelson 20MM’s website.

Even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic one in three college students regularly experienced food insecurity. The current public health and economic crises have only magnified the problem, creating financial hardships that threaten to derail the college careers of minority, low-income, and first-generation students. 

Fortunately, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress earmarks over $6 billion in direct financial aid payments to students. Getting this money into their hands in a timely manner has not been without complications, but with the support of a Michelson Spark Grant, Swipe Out Hunger has been advancing capacity-building efforts and working with administrators to ensure emergency aid makes it to the students who need it most.

Founded by a group of friends at the University of California Los Angeles in 2010, Swipe Out Hunger addresses the persistent problem of food insecurity among college students. The nonprofit is now partnered with more than 110 U.S. colleges to design and implement anti-hunger programs on campus. Swipe Out Hunger has helped to serve 2 million meals to students facing food insecurity. Its expansive presence and expertise in effectively delivering assistance make the organization uniquely positioned to help in the current crisis.

Since the pandemic hit college campuses, Swipe Out Hunger has led in organizing webinars designed to help institutions address the evolving needs of their students. Currently, the CARES Act distribution of emergency aid is slow, overly complicated, under-publicized, and lacks transparency. The process of applying for and receiving these emergency aid dollars have been challenging for students– and many are unaware this federal money even exists. Swipe Out Hunger is stepping up to address these problems through their FairCARES campaign.

Backed by a newly awarded Spark Grant, Swipe Out Hunger is leveraging its network of both students and administrators to help create effective systems for disbursing and publicizing federal emergency aid to students across its member campuses. The organization is developing digital training tools and strategies to ensure responsive, transparent, and equitable distribution of funds. Swipe Out Hunger is also consulting with school administrators on the design of their own emergency aid programs. 

“Swipe Out Hunger has a proven track record of delivering assistance to students in need,” says Gary K. Michelson, M.D., Founder of Michelson 20MM. “We are proud to support the organization’s pandemic response efforts in helping get aid to students so that they can stay enrolled and focus on achieving their education goals.”

For countless students, receiving just a small amount of emergency aid can mean the difference between completing a degree and putting academic plans on hold. At Michelson 20MM, we understand that fast and effective aid disbursement keeps students on track, which is why we’ve made it one of the cornerstones in our efforts of improving access and equity in higher education. Swipe Out Hunger’s capacity for reaching students is second to none, and we are proud to award the organization a Spark Grant in support of getting funds appropriated by the CARES Act in the hands of students. 

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