United Way Bay Area’s Guide to Replicating SparkPoint for Student Success

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United Way Bay Area’s Guide to Replicating SparkPoint for Student Success at Postsecondary Institutions

SparkPoint 101

Learn about the history of SparkPoint, including the origins, the core principles, the launch, and the growth.


SparkPoint 102

Learn about the SparkPoint model including services, structure, and who we serve.

SparkPoint 103

In this video, we cover SparkPoint data including outcomes, data collection forms, our data tracking system, reporting, and bundling.


Recognizing the realities facing students and institutions, the SparkPoint model is equipped to support student success. SparkPoint centers at postsecondary institutions act as a centralized hub, working with students to support their basic needs, employment, and finances so they can focus on their studies. Services such as financial coaching, benefits screening, food pantry access, tax preparation, credit counseling, referrals to housing supports, legal consultations, career coaching, and more are provided at no cost to any student seeking to improve their financial situation.

Supporting students’ basic needs has many benefits for postsecondary institutions, such as helping to improve student academic performance, retain federal financial aid, promote retention and degree completion, generate more tuition dollars, and increase overall enrollment.

Financial coaching is an effective strategy for impacting financial literacy and financial behavior. SparkPoint financial coaches work one-on-one with students to set goals, brainstorm strategies, and create realistic action plans. They value strengths, build motivation, and provide monitoring and accountability.
Postsecondary institutions have a powerful opportunity to be an important channel not only to help ensure students’ basic needs are met, but also to empower students with financial resiliency to prevent future financial crises. Postsecondary institutions face challenges with low enrollment, student persistence, and completion rates.

A 2019 national study found that students who have food and housing insecurity have lower grades, work the highest number of hours each week, and are less healthy than other students. In addition, the U.S. Government of Accountability issued a report in 2018 highlighting how food insecurity among students poses a significant barrier to academic success and program completion.

Many research studies have found that financial capability and positive academic outcomes are often correlated. For example, college students who exhibit positive financial behaviors perform better academically, and college students’ financial well-being is positively correlated with academic progress, mental and physical well-being, and the ability to find employment after graduation.

Our own preliminary research has shown that our student-clients persist at rates 11% to 38% higher than the college average.


Toolkit Theory of Change

Continue reading the Discovery section

Learn more about the SparkPoint model and if it’s a fit for your institution by exploring the Discovery section.


Readiness Assessment

The readiness assessment is a tool that determines your institution’s readiness to plan a SparkPoint center. It can be used as a diagnostic tool to see and track progress toward readiness, and spark dialogue among institutional leadership and departments for building consensus and buy-in for a new SparkPoint center. The assessment is formatted as a survey that is divided into 6 sections: Buy-In, Funding, Partnerships, Services, Space, and Staffing. Readiness in these key areas lays a strong foundation for planning and launching a center.



Continue to the Readiness Assessment

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