An Evaluation of the Emergency Aid Programs at the University of Southern California and Los Angeles Community College District

Report by Hilary Olson, Kalen Cornelious, Riley Carbonneau, Victoria Ciudad-Real, Dr. Jovanna Rosen, Cynthia Barboza-Wilkes, Hannah Lee, Gary Painter
May 2021

Sol Price Center for Social Innovation   (Los Angeles)

The Leonetti/O’Connell Family Foundation established emergency aid programs at the University of Southern California (USC) and the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) in 2019. Although the programs differ slightly in their application and disbursement processes, both programs provide cash assistance to students experiencing financial hardships that threaten to derail their academic success.

The USC program received 170 applications, of which it approved 81%. Awards averaged $852, for a total disbursement of almost $117,000. Meanwhile, the LACCD program granted 405 awards averaging $627 for a total disbursement of $254,000. Across both locations, applicants most often requested assistance for food, housing, and other basic needs. Both programs also received relatively high numbers of applications during March and April of 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak (COVID).

To analyze the outcomes of the emergency aid pilots, the evaluation utilized administrative data, which included information such as the types of expenses for which students were requesting help. Additionally, the evaluation included interviews with program recipients to understand how receiving the aid impacted students’ lives. In total, the analysis drew on data from 162 USC applications and 405 LACCD applications, as well as 35 USC participant interviews and 26 LACCD participant interviews.