#RealCollege is a national movement created by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Focused on the struggles, triumphs, and realities of what it means to be in college today, #RealCollege seeks to change the landscape of higher education so that all students can afford and complete their studies.

Historically disempowered students and colleges become more powerful when they work together, pooling resources to alter the future of higher education. #RealCollege coalitions form the basis of the movement. In these coalitions members work together toward common goals in order to increase their effectiveness. All of the coalitions commit to a single fundamental premise:  Secure access to food and housing is essential to academic success in higher education and must therefore be treated as a top educational priority.

The inaugural #RealCollegeCalifornia was instigated by the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce. Members of the #RealCollegeCalifornia receive the following support from the Hope Center as they endeavor to secure students’ basic needs:

  • #RealCollegeCalifornia Conference – Special membership rates for the annual Conference, and support with the planning and implementation of the conference which is held on a California Community College campus.
  • Strategic Planning – Advice from leaders, including virtual office hours with Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, and help with strategic planning and implementation in diverse areas such as financial aid, food, housing, partnership relations, and advising
  • Network and Partnership Connections – Networking opportunities and moral support provided by experienced practitioners from around the country.
  • Grant Assistance – Assistance with grant proposals and other fundraising activities for participating institutions.
  • Research, Data, and Baseline Metrics – Assistance from qualified researchers to establish baseline metrics and assess outcomes as well as assistance with powerful storytelling.
  • Online Resources – Participation in an online platform to communicate with colleagues for brainstorming, collaboration, and planning, including a virtual book club.
  • Advocacy Support – Strategic Guidance on policy advocacy at the state and federal levels and opportunities to share lessons and success with a national audience.
  • #RealCollege Survey – Optional Participation in the #RealCollege survey, cost includes student incentives.

#RealCollegeCalifornia Membership

Any California Community College may apply to become a member of the #RealCollegeCalifornia for one year. To do so, institutions should complete the below membership application, including affirming the commitment statement, and pay the #RealCollegeCalifornia membership fee to the Community College League of California. As part of this process, institutions will share information on their current #RealCollege efforts in five areas:  food security, housing security, communications and education, data, and policy.

Continued Membership
Continued membership requires that institutions demonstrate annual progress in their #RealCollege work in at least two of the five areas or by adding at least one new area of work to their portfolio. In addition, by end of year one institutions must have completed the #RealCollege survey or a comparable survey approved by the Hope Center.

Membership Pricing
Annual membership varies by institutional size (headcount). The #RealCollege survey is an extra $2,500 ($1,000 of which goes to the institution’s students for participation).

  • 10,000 students or less                        $3,000
  • 10,000- 20,000 students                     $4,000
  • 20,001- 30,000 students                     $5,000
  • 30,001 students or more                     $6,000

A portion of each membership fee ($300) will be used to support the annual #RealCollegeCalifornia Conference.

Membership Application

Note: Colleges that complete the #RealCollegeCalifornia membership application will receive an invoice from the Community College League of California for membership payment.


Begin your application today!

About your college:

Each college in a district should complete this application separately.

Who will be the point of contact for your #RealCollege membership?

Current Efforts:
Please provide information on your current activities and services to support students’ basic needs.

Who can we contact to learn more about your survey and the results? 

Commitment Statement:
Please review this statement with your college president and affirm that they agree to it. If possible, please post your commitment publicly.

We recognize that secure access to food and housing is essential to academic success in higher education and must, therefore, be treated as a top educational priority. We will exemplify this commitment in our public statements and in our daily work. We will advance a campus culture of caring that recognizes that students are humans first. We will use data and evidence to drive our efforts to reduce food and housing insecurity and seek to impact as many of our students as possible. Finally, we will address the structural poverty that created this basic needs security crisis.