The Basic Needs Fund Has Launched

The Basic Needs Coalition @Stanford has launched the Basic Needs Fund, an initiative to help make sure every Stanford student can meet their basic needs. We want to raise an initial $100,000 in the next month to help support Stanford students meet their basic needs.

Our Mission

Access to basic needs such as food, housing, and healthcare should never be an issue for any Stanford student, but has been and continues to be, especially in the time of the pandemic. Take just one look at this 1-1 Mutual Aid Sheet or any of the reporting on food and housing-insecurity throughout the years ( 1, 2, 3 ) and this will be abundantly clear.
The Basic Needs Coalition @ Stanford is launching a Basic Needs Fund, because we know that there are enough resources in the Stanford community to provide safety for all of us. The fund is a student led initiative to mobilize community and institutional resources to support basic needs for Stanford students and their families when institutional resources are not enough.
We are fundraising an initial $100,000 for a Basic Needs Fund to support Stanford students and their families struggling to meet their basic needs in this unprecedented time.
The Basic Needs Fund & Coalition is launching rapidly and under changing conditions. While the core mission and structure of the fund and coalition will not change, this is a living document that will be updated to reflect feedback and learnings.

Who We Are

The Basic Needs Coalition @Stanford, whose members also represent student organizations such as FLIP (First-Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership), Stanford Mutual Aid, Stanford Food Recovery, ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University), and SWR (Students for Workers’ Rights), among others, seeks to organize resources and advocacy to ensure that the basic needs of the Stanford community are comprehensively met.
Our team consists of students, alumni, and staff who previously ran the Mutual Aid Spreadsheet that helped 100s of Stanford affiliates share resources (spare rooms, transportation, groceries, childcare, and more) with each other and move an estimated $30,000 to students; the ASSU Support fund (which distributed $191,000 to 1500 students); the Columbae Student Support Fund (which distributed $110,000 of community donations to 1100 students); and the FLIP Housing Match Initiative (which worked with 125 housing-insecure students to match them with temporary housing for Spring Quarter and Summer).
The Basic Needs Fund is fiscally sponsored by the Academic Mutual Aid Foundation, an amazing 501(c)3 organization that distributes emergency cost assistance to students and academic workers in need.

Why This Is Needed

Current university resources have proven insufficient in meeting many of the urgent needs of Stanford students and their families.
Students are navigating countless crises, escalating in the wake of COVID-19, including the loss of campus jobs (such as recently cancelled student staff roles ), parental unemployment, and housing instability. Many are left without the proper resources to care for themselves and their loved ones. Student need, which always exists, has skyrocketed during this time period and will likely remain high for the foreseeable future.
Some students are able to access institutional resources, through the FLI and Financial Aid offices in particular, but find that these funds are not enough. Other students fall through the cracks. Some—particularly those navigating lost personal or family income—are unequivocally in need but are ineligible for the Opportunity Fund (for which applications are only open to students whose expected student contribution and expected family contribution are each under $5000).
For those who can access University support with living expenses, these resources are only available to students enrolled in classes. Yet during the upcoming modified Academic Year, many students are not in a position to dedicate sufficient time to coursework, given other responsibilities and access barriers. Some students are taking leaves of absences, while others enroll because it is the only way to access institutional support. (Wealthier peers, in contrast, have the opportunity to put time into being a student or, if they choose, to take a gap year.)
Finally, the university is unable to provide financial support for a student’s family members, despite the fact that the well-being and livelihood of one’s family is, of course, inextricably linked to the well-being and livelihood of students.
The Basic Needs Fund is a resource for these students, students for whom university resources have been insufficient, and/or who have been classified as ineligible for university resources, but nonetheless have urgent need.

Make a Request

If you are a student in need of additional support beyond what the university can provide for your basic needs right now, use this request form to request aid from the Basic Needs Fund. See the FAQ for a clear breakdown of who can access the fund, and for what basic needs this fund is intended.

How To Help

The Basic Needs Coalition is raising $100,000 to support students and families. We’re asking alumni, parents, faculty, current students, and other supporters to donate to a Basic Needs Fund, which will be disbursed this fall and potentially beyond. Here’s how you can help:

Donate

You can donate to the Basic Needs Fund via Paypal, Venmo, or GoFundMe. Any amount is helpful and 100% goes straight to students. The average expressed need is $1,343 and a donation of that amount helps students pay for essentials like medication, monthly rent, and/or groceries.

Share

For easy email and social media templates, use our comprehensive media toolkit to spread the campaign to your friends and Stanford networks.

Subscribe

If you want to stay updated on the Fund and the Stanford Basic Needs Coalition, you can subscribe to our mailing list. You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Join Us

The Basic Needs Coalition is working rapidly and forming strategy under uncertain conditions. Fill out this onboarding form to get more deeply involved; and please feel welcome to fill out this feedback form — particularly if you don’t have the capacity to get involved but want to share your wisdom, experiences, or concerns.
This pandemic has made it abundantly clear that each and every one of us needs to step up to advocate for community, accessibility, and equity, and we ask that you join us in supporting the basic needs of all Stanford students, both now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

FAQ: The Basic Needs Fund

What counts as a basic need?

Our framework, developed in conversation with organizers at Basic Needs Centers at several other private and public universities such as the University of Southern California , UC Berkeley , and UCLA , accounts for resources that are essential to living. These include food, shelter (including rent and utilities), and healthcare (including mental health care).
PS: Every University of California and California State University school has a dedicated Basic Needs Center. Stanford does not.

Who is eligible for the Basic Needs Fund?

Any Stanford student in need is eligible to request aid from this fund to help with their and their family’s basic needs.
This includes:
  • Undergraduate students
  • Graduate students
  • Postdocs
  • Students taking leaves of absences due to COVID-19
  • Incoming frosh and transfers
  • Frosh and transfer students deferring enrollment due to COVID-19
  • New alumni impacted by COVID-19 (specifically the Class of 2020)
Note: Eligible students are asked to apply for funds via institutional resources first, such as the Opportunity Fund for undergraduate students or Emergency Grant-in-Aid for graduate students, before accessing this community-organized Basic Needs Fund. A student-compiled, best-effort list of almost all institutional resources can be found here. Depending on your enrollment status and program, you may be eligible for additional resources.

How are requests handled and processed?

The fund request process starts with the Basic Needs Fund Request Form , which informs students of alternative sources of university funding for which they might be eligible. (The Basic Needs Fund is not an institutional source of funding and should be seen as a last resort to cover basic needs).
Students then have the opportunity to describe their needs, which are anonymized. Anonymized requests are then passed on to the Basic Needs Fund management board, composed of students who were nominated and confirmed by student communities that have long been engaged in advocacy work related to Basic Needs. The management board meets at least weekly to review applications and grant what the fund allows, while also conferring on an ad-hoc basis to address urgent requests. Lastly, a separate student volunteer—not on the management board—helps distribute the funds to students to protect student privacy.

How quickly will my request be processed?

Generally within 1 week, dependent on the timing and volume of donations. More urgent requests (ie. funds needed in less than 7 days) will be processed accordingly.

How does the Basic Needs Coalition differ from the Basic Needs Fund?

The Basic Needs Coalition is a coalition dedicated to mobilizing community resources and institutional resources to ensure the basic needs of the full Stanford community (students, students’ families, workers, and staff) are comprehensively met.
The Basic Needs Fund is a project to specifically support the basic needs of Stanford students and their families in this time by raising and distributing funds.

Do you have other questions?

If you still have unanswered questions after visiting the website, you can email contact@basic-needs-stanford.org. We will respond and update this document with answers.

FAQ: Fiscal Sponsorship by the AMAF

What is Fiscal Sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship is a way that community groups can access the structural benefits of being a non-profit without actually becoming one. Money flows through an organization with 501(c)3 non-profit status. Accounting, tax reporting, and some operations are shared.

Who is the AMAF?

The Academic Mutual Aid Foundation (AMAF) facilitates mutual aid among students and academic workers by distributing cash assistance to anyone in need.
Too many people have to leave higher education incomplete due to unexpected cost. AMAF is helping to build a resilient academic community that cares for its own.
Check out AMAF’s website here!

Why do we want fiscal sponsorship?

A fiscal sponsorship gives the Basic Needs Fund @Stanford five major benefits:
  1. Donations are tax-deductible. All future contributions to the Basic Needs Fund @Stanford are tax-deductible, and we hope that this encourages more individuals to support the Fund.
  2. Accepting donations that are only available to 501(c)3 groups. Those who wish to contribute from a donor-advised fund, charitable account, foundation, or corporate matching program now have the opportunity to do so.
  3. Tax protections. Previously, those managing and organizing the Fund held tax risks and legal liability for the organization. Fiscal sponsorship removes those risks.
  4. Stronger infrastructure. Access to AMAF’s banking, reporting, and accounting services strengthen the BNF’s already-rigorous financial management.
  5. Shared values and mutual support. We want to support and uplift the work that AMAF is doing nationally, which aligns deeply with the BNF’s vision.
Organizers with the Basic Needs Fund developed our fiscal sponsorship agreement over weeks of deliberation and by consensus. This was not a decision that was made lightly.
It is worth noting that fiscal sponsorship can, in some cases, be a way that nonprofits and funders exert control over more community-led groups, often in the name of “administrative oversight.” This was our primary concern when we began to consider seeking fiscal sponsorship.
We are so grateful to have partnered with AMAF -- an organization that shares our values and goals -- and to have signed a contract that protects our autonomy.

What does this change for me if I'm requesting funds?

Nothing!

What does this mean for me if I'm contributing funds?

PayPal, Venmo, and GoFundMe are still great ways to contribute (PayPal is preferred between these three).
If you would like to contribute by check, please mail it to 609 4th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118. Make it out to the Academic Mutual Aid Foundation, but mention “Basic Needs Fund at Stanford” in the memo line.
If you would like to contribute via a grant-making entity, AMAF’s EIN is 84-4695549. Please mark contributions as for the Basic Needs Fund @ Stanford. If you are seeking corporate matching and your company uses Benevity -- AMAF’s profile is here. Again, please be sure to mark contributions as for the Basic Needs Fund @ Stanford. If you have additional questions, please reach out: contact@basic-needs-stanford.org.

How do I request a tax deduction?

AMAF and BNF will issue 501(c)3 donation receipts by the end of each calendar year for all contributions totalling $250 or more.
To ensure that you receive your receipt, please contribute via PayPal and make sure that the email on your profile is up-to-date.
If you do not receive a receipt by December 31st, you have made a contribution of >= $250, and you would like one, please email studentmutualaid@gmail.com and AMAF will get back to you!.

Does my full contribution go to the Basic Needs Fund? Does fiscal sponsorship come with a fee?

We have agreed to apply a 5% fee to all “large” donations that the BNF receives, defined as those that are $250 or more. This fee will go toward the Academic Mutual Aid Foundation’s general fund, applications for which are open to university students and academic workers across the United States.
In other words:
  1. If you make a contribution of under $250, then your full contribution goes directly to the BNF, which is distributed to Stanford students by our fund management board.
  2. If you make a contribution of $250 or more, then 5% of your contribution supports AMAF’s general fund, which may support a student outside of Stanford.
It’s worth noting that this is unusual for a fiscal sponsorship agreement, which usually comes with much higher fees for administrative costs and staff salaries. AMAF, run by volunteers, has extremely low operational costs, all of which are covered by other sources. 100% of your donation will go to university students and academic workers.
We are grateful to AMAF for these generous terms, and we hope that you share our excitement about ensuring that this fiscal sponsorship supports both organizations’ missions!

Contact Us

Have any comments, concerns, feedback, or suggestions? We're always available! Feel free to email us at contact@basic-needs-stanford.org or find us on on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.