State Education Officials Announce 'PA MASLOW' College Basic Needs Program | WDIY Local News
Pennsylvania officials were recently in the Lehigh Valley to announce the launch of a new initiative to help college students meet their needs.
Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid Mumin was one of several speakers at Cedar Crest College on Tuesday during the unveiling of the new program, called PA MASLOW: A Hierarchy of Collegiate Basic Needs.
This cross-agency partnership aims to help postsecondary students address their basic needs so they can succeed in their education. It also intends to involve higher learning institutions across the state.
Dr. Kate Shaw, Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Postsecondary and Higher Education, said three in five students experience basic needs insecurity of some type.
60% of students have mental health issues, which Shaw said were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 48% were housing insecure in 2021.
“We have part-time students, full-time students working full-time jobs as parents, students have a lot on their plate,” she said.
“And it is not just in the best interest of the students to complete their education, it is in the best interest of our commonwealth. We need more college graduates in this state.”
Shaw said it was important to support the whole student, and she said PA MASLOW was designed to do just that.
She noted that the program is based on the hierarchy of needs developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s. This theory included physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs.
“We take that approach with postsecondary students in our state, and whether our college students are freshmen right out of high school, whether they have returned to college after 20 years and have grown children, it is our children to make sure that we give them what they need to succeed,” Shaw said.
PA MASLOW includes six basic pillars - digital equity, housing and transportation, mental health, personal needs, adult student needs, and safety and belonging. Shaw said the new initiative is already gaining traction.
“This is a whole, statewide movement in which we already have multiple colleges and universities, and hundreds of students already participating in,” Shaw said.
Calley Stevens Taylor, Cedar Crest’s Vice President for Student Services and Success and Dean of Students, said she believed there was an obligation to meet students’ needs, both on and off-campus,”
For college students, transportation, textbooks, access to support services, and educational technology are also fundamental basic needs,” Stevens Taylor said.
"None of us can be at our best if we don’t have safe housing, sufficient food, and support for our physical and mental health, and we can’t expect students to be successful in college without these, either.”
She said Cedar Crest has been working for a decade to close the gaps in providing basic student needs but said that more work needs to be done both at the college and across Pennsylvania. She said PA MASLOW would help these ongoing efforts.
“By providing guidance and access to resources, opportunities to connect with colleagues at other institutions, and a common language and framework to work from, PA MASLOW will help higher education institutions across the commonwealth better support our students and further strengthen our communities,” Stevens Taylor explained.
Mumin talked about how Maslow’s hierarchy identifies elements that individuals need to survive and thrive. He said these key points need to be translated into a comprehensive guide to help ensure that students can succeed, and that individualized approaches must be taken to meet each person’s specific needs and situation.
“Well, we need to ensure that the learners have everything they need to be successful. Meaning, they persist and complete their credential,” he said.
“Today’s students are diverse, and unique, and have different needs than the students that came before them. Because of this, we know that any solutions we provide must be tailored and personalized as possible.”
Mumin emphasized that through the PA MASLOW framework, institutions can learn from one another to meet the initiatives six basic pillars.
He also said the Department of Education is working to break down silos between the state’s agencies, eliminate systemic barriers and cycles of poverty, and provide more pathways to students.
“We will address and eliminate the stigmas around student learner basic needs, and that’s why we’re looking at needs and funding initiatives that will help all students,” he stated.
In closing, Mumin encouraged other institutions to join the PA MASLOW program at education.pa.gov.
“And together, we can provide the tools, resources, and support students need to ensure that they can reach the infinite possibilities of success,” he said.
(Original air-date: 9/7/23)