Although students of color tend to experience poverty and material hardships at higher rates than their white peers, the way that emergency aid is typically designed and delivered — from application to fund distribution — exacerbates racial inequality. Moreover, students who most need and stand to benefit from emergency aid are the least likely to receive it.
That’s why at Edquity, in our pursuit to maximize racial equity, we created an approach that addresses the emergency aid challenges that traditionally keep students of color from receiving the support they need to stay enrolled.
Here are five ways that we put racial equity at the forefront of emergency aid:
- We design our application to work against administrative racism. Our online application is extensively tested with diverse users across the country to be universally accessible, understandable, and caring. The microaggressions baked into many emergency aid applications — which ask students of color to justify their requests and “perform” their poverty — are not part of our application. With our application, students aren’t required to write an essay or complete an interview, and students can complete it in the privacy of their own spaces.
- Our platform’s decision-making strategy optimizes for equity. Our decisioning framework uses lessons from cutting-edge research to implicitly advantage minoritized students without ever asking them to identify their race. More so, rather than only serving those students most-likely to stay in school, we maximize equity by targeting funds to those students who will receive the biggest boost from the support and remain enrolled.
- We know that a rapid-response timeline is more inclusive. Slow timelines put students with the fewest alternative sources of support at the most risk. Therefore, our decisioning approach allows institutions to consider relative demand and hardship rather than merely prioritizing students who have better access to information, technology, and campus resources. In doing so, we offer a unique approach to timing that helps partners get money out fast and equitably.
- The way we distribute funds is flexible and equitable. We aim to offer unconditional cash transfers rather than loans or income-share agreements, which sentence recipients to additional debt: debt that’s already disproportionately held by students of color. Because research shows that cash transfers have larger benefits for minoritized groups, we strive to distribute emergency aid as cash transfers to maximize racial equity and to relieve students of color of compounding debt.
- We don’t rely on word-of-mouth campus advertising. Campuses typically rely on word-of-mouth strategies to inform students about their emergency aid programs. This approach, however, marginalizes students of color, who have less access to campus leadership, are often segregated from white social networks, and are less likely to ask college administrators for help. Additionally, according to a Hope Center report, Black students were more likely than white students to say they weren’t aware that their institutions offered emergency aid. Therefore, university partners can advertise our emergency aid platform via their websites and already established electronic campus communication lines (including email and SMS). Lastly, our brandable app and web tool are discoverable on social media, thus making emergency aid resources even more accessible to students.
We acknowledge that this list is by no means exhaustive, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to root out structural racism in traditional emergency aid programs, including creating more inclusive communication strategies and closing the digital divide. However, as institutions plan for how to best administer emergency aid under The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), colleges and universities that are committed to anti-racist practices stand to benefit from using our expert-backed emergency aid platform, which is explicitly designed to promote equity in a sustainable manner.
Get in touch with us at email@example.com to learn more about how you can bring equitable emergency aid to yours students today.