Subject Area



Basic needs insecurity has gained recognition as a significant barrier to completing a postsecondary credential. Research has shown that students enrolled at community colleges experience basic needs insecurity at rates higher than their four-year counterparts. Given the community college’s expansive mission, it is imperative that these institutions attempt to mitigate basic needs insecurity by identifying innovative solutions tailored to their specific student populations. The original aim of this study was to explore the utility of the planned change framework in understanding how a partnership between a postsecondary institution (Santa Monica College) and a nonprofit organization (Swipe Out Hunger) led to the development and implementation of programs/services designed to address food insecurity. After an introductory discussion with a Santa Monica College (SMC) representative, it became clear that the focus of the study required broadening to investigate how the institution addressed basic needs insecurity. Broadening the scope of the study to incorporate more holistic wrap-around services and supports allowed for more robust data collection and a better understanding of how SMC supports students. The revised aim of this case study was to understand how organizational culture influenced SMC’s ability to provide holistic, creative solutions to address basic-needs insecurity for their student population. A qualitative research design was selected to understand how organizational culture influenced organizational decision making around student basic needs insecurity programs/services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 SMC-based participants and 2 housing-focused community partners/affiliates. Findings suggest that a prominent culture of caring at SMC likely influenced how and why the institution addressed basic needs insecurity. Elements of SMC’s culture of caring can be applied broadly to other postsecondary institutions to address student basic needs insecurity and potentially enhance student success.

Keywords: student basic needs insecurity, food insecurity, housing insecurity, wrap-around services, higher education, community college, culture of caring

Degree Date

Spring 5-14-2022

Document Type


Degree Name



Education Policy and Leadership


Kiersten Ferguson

Second Advisor

Michael Harris

Third Advisor

Kenechukwu (K.C.) Mmeje

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Post

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License