Basic Needs Student Resource Navigators Recognized Nationally

Basic Needs Navigator group

February 22, 2024 - 01:56 PM

Basic Needs staff with NavigatorsThe new Basic Needs Student Resource Navigator program has been recognized by NASPA (a Student Affairs national organization) Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community as this year’s Outstanding New Program. The Navigators are student employees tasked with a caseload of students receiving Basic Needs assistance.

Richard ChavezStudent Navigator Richard Chavez said, “Going from the dire situation of ‘oh my God, I need someone to help me’, to now being on the other side and understanding how scared these students in need are. It is very rewarding to be there to relieve that stress.”

Basic Needs Resources is the Student Services department that addresses food, housing, financial, transportation and other insecurities that students may face that would deter them from finishing their higher education at Mt. SAC.

Rigo Estrada “The Student Resource Navigator is a peer-to-peer case management model we established two years ago,” explained Rigo Estrada, the Basic Needs Director. “A lot of the day-to-day needs are handled by the Navigators, like providing Basic Needs vouchers.”

Lorena Cardozo talking to NavigatorLorena Cardozo, Basic Needs Resource Program Specialist said, “Having our students engage with another student establishes a comfort level that is more approachable than when a student deals with one of our professional counselors (full-time staff).”  

Gabe Camacho counsels studentStudent Navigator Gabe Camacho agrees, “The most rewarding thing is to be able to relate to a student going through a tough time and finding a way to help them. It helps to be a student yourself.”

Estrada gave details on the program. “Our student Navigators help over 350 students and distribute about $40,000 worth of Basic Needs vouchers per semester. They are having a real impact.”

“No student is the same,” said Cardozo. “Each student comes from someplace different. They have different backgrounds.”Student uses Navigate app

According to Estrada, the same Student Services app, EAB Navigate, that the rest of the campus and other Student Services use, is the best way for students to schedule appointments with Navigators.

While many people may be familiar with the Basic Needs Food Pantry held each month, they may not know what a widespread program it is, with office space inside bldg. 9C.

Student grabs some tofu“Basic Needs is much more than just the Food Pantry,” said Estrada. “Many of our students are facing a multitude of Basic Needs insecurities on top of food insecurity. Our case management system, with the Navigators, is here to address this. Our Food Pantry is just a short-term gap support. The Navigators are here to connect our students with the long-term community support resources they need to succeed.”

For more information, visit the Basic Needs webpage.