MONTPELIER, Vt. — A fall 2020 survey among students at the Community College of Vermont (CCV) revealed that 61% of respondents had experienced at least one form of basic needs insecurity during the pandemic. 

In response, the College has established Life Gap Plus, a new program designed to provide greater visibility of and access to resources for students facing basic needs insecurities. Funded with generous support from private donors, the program builds on CCV’s Life Gap Grants, just-in-time scholarships that can help students bridge challenging situations that might otherwise threaten their ability to stay in school. 

“With the Life Gap Grant, we wanted to create a solution for students facing emergencies that could derail their education,” said Ryan Dulude, CCV’s director of financial aid. “Through Life Gap Plus, we’re taking that a step further. With the help of our partners around the state, we’re providing resources so students either don’t encounter that emergency in the first place or have some ready-made resources to help navigate an emergency more successfully while staying engaged toward their educational goals.”

Through Life Gap Plus, the College has created Student Resource Centers in its Winooski, Montpelier, Rutland, and Brattleboro academic centers. Student ambassadors provide peer-to-peer outreach around eligibility for food assistance through 3SquaresVT, and United Way Working Bridges Resource Coordinators are also available to connect students with housing, child care, transportation, and other resources. The program will expand on existing partnerships with community organizations such as Feeding Chittenden, as well as establish new relationships with food shelves and other local organizations.  All CCV students are eligible for Life Gap Grants and to take advantage of Life Gap Plus resources.

CCV-Winooski student Amanda Reid is one of the program’s first student ambassadors. “[Life Gap Plus] will help bring awareness to the stigma associated with 3SquaresVT and help people realize that they don’t have to choose between eating dinner or getting gas…people won’t have to worry as much because there are resources that can help.” She stressed the importance of reaching out for help when needed, whether that’s to her or another student ambassador, a CCV advisor, or the Vermont Foodbank. Her work, she says, is about “letting my peers know that they’re not alone.”

To learn more about Life Gap Plus, visit ccv.edu/student-resources.

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