Río Hondo College was awarded a grant of nearly $1 million in federal funds to support unhoused and transitionally unhoused students, the Whittier community college announced Thursday.

The funds will increase staffing for the Hope Scholars Program, an assistance project that provides support services for students in need. The college was one of five schools nationally to receive a Basic Needs in Postsecondary Education award from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the college, the funds will allow the program to increase community awareness and expand support services including tutoring and success coaching, academic counseling, mental health services and financial literacy programs.

Since moving to remote operations due to COVID-19, the college has received an additional $2.49 million in grants to increase supportive services, provide basic necessities and crisis intervention, according to the school.

The latest grant “allows us the ability to scale up our efforts to support students experiencing these problems through the Hope Scholars program,” Dr. Earic Dixon-Peters, vice president of Student Services, said in a statement. “We believe our work changes lives.”

The program helps students access temporary housing, receive counseling and register for classes. Since introducing the Hope Scholars Program in the 2019-2020 academic year, Río Hondo has seen a 184.3% increase in services provided directly to students, according to the college.

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