ASI crunches the numbers for basic needs allocation

For the time in its history, the ASI Board of Directors discussed funding university programs and held mid-year budget proceedings during its Oct. 22 meeting. This discussion follows ASI’s decision to funnel $2 million toward student aid.

“The numbers (students) are about to see are an estimate; you’re going to see how much funding we have and how much funding can go to programs and help students. Once we get the exact number, we’re going to be reallocating the more exact amount,” said ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh.

ASI Secretary of Basic Needs Rosalia Armas discussed the recommended allocations starting with Cal Poly Pomona’s Emergency Grant. This grant gives up to $500 in aid to 3,168 students in need, and there have been 1,013 applicants. The recommended allocation for the grant is 72% of the $2 million, and would be the first time that ASI, an auxiliary organization, assists in funding a university-operated program.

Additionally, 4% of the funding will be awarded to two eligible students this spring semester via the ASI Basic Needs Scholarship. Criteria for the scholarship is in the early stages of planning, according to ASI President Lucy Yu.

“There will be a more intensive application process than the grant so that we can know more background and will narrow it down,” said Yu.

Singh clarified that the recipients for the recent basic needs scholarship will not be decided by the ASI Basic Needs Committee, but rather directly decided by the ASI Basic Needs Care Coordinator Alyssa Christiansen.

Slated to resume operation in the upcoming weeks, the Poly Pantry, ASI’s food pantry program, is receiving 14% of the total allocation.

The Poly Pantry 2 Go program, whose reopening plan was discussed in the meeting, will begin taking registrations on Oct. 28 and curbside pickup will begin Nov. 4.

“We will never deny services to any student regardless of requirements, the only requirement we enforce are the health screeners masks, social distancing and practicing personal hygiene,” said Christiansen.

Other basic needs in high demand are laptop and hot spot loans. Vice President for Student Affairs Christina Gonzales discussed information technology and the high student demand for laptops and hotspots. According to Armas, 494 laptops have been provided, but 20 students remain on the waitlist.

The laptop and hotspot demand, compared to the other programs, is projected to grow next semester due to the continuation of online instruction next semester. In a recent CPP survey, 20% of student respondents reported having unreliable Wi-Fi and 9% indicated unreliable access to computers or tablets.

With this rising need, Gonzales added that 300 additional hotspots will become available in October and November with 300 more scheduled for January. This program was recommended an allocation of 5%.

DACA support fees are also receiving funding from ASI. Specifically, ASI recommends contributing 3% of the $2 million to Undocumented Student Services’ legal assistance fund to aid undocumented students’ DACA filing expenses.

According to the Undocumented Student Services Coordinator Mecir Ureta Rivera, there are up to 1,000 undocumented students at CPP who may benefit from this program, which has become more essential, with the USCIS changes made this summer, causing recipients to renew every year with an increased $495 fee.

“Given the times with COVID it’s really tough on students to come up with $500. Fortunately, there wasn’t a (fee) increase but that can change at any moment,” said Rivera

During the two weeks leading up to the next board meeting, members will discuss increasing the Basic Needs Scholarship to reach more students as well as finalize the Basic Needs program costs.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4. The list, minutes, and Zoom link for previous and upcoming board of directors’ meetings can be found here.

(Feature image Nicolas Hernandez | The Poly Post)

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