Andrew Yang built a national platform for universal basic income (UBI) programs with his presidential campaign's Freedom Dividend plan. Although Andrew's presidential run ended early, the idea of universal basic income is taking off, particularly now that we're in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Research into basic income programs have demonstrated their benefits, supporting promising early results from larger experiments like Stockton's SEED program.
Although the impact of Stockton's program is still being evaluated, evidence suggests basic income programs can help students enrolled in community college. Administrators at San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton's community college) immediately saw how the SEED program would benefit their students who – like Los Angeles's community college students – struggle to meet their basic needs on a regular basis.
Anecdotal evidence, like the story of Mississippi community college student Ciara McDonald, shows how impactful these programs can be for individuals who want to access community college programs to further their own educational goals. Ciara was selected in a lottery to receive $1,000 a month for a year, as part of an experiment called Magnolia Mother’s Trust that supported 20 single Black mothers in Jackson, the state's capital. The cash transfers allowed Ciara to complete her GED at Hinds Community College and make progress toward her degree goals. She is on track to graduate this year (thanks to the flexibility distance learning courses are providing her during the pandemic) and will become the first in her family to earn a degree.
Targeted basic income programs to support Los Angeles Community College students at the campuses with the greatest need (like Trade-Tech and Southwest where nearly three quarters of students are food insecure) would go a long way to improve lives and improve student certificate, degree and transfer outcomes.
As a Trustee, I will work with foundations and other non-governmental organizations to secure the funds required to pilot a UBI program in the Los Angeles Community College District. When non-tuition costs account for at least 80% of the cost of attendance at community colleges, supplementing student income can go a long way to building a stronger economy and stronger communities.