Some research proposals develop over the course of many months, even years, and involve numerous iterations and reviews before being funded. Others are completed in less than 36 hours after receiving an email from your school’s Provost. The latter example is how Rashida Crutchfield, Assistant Professor of Social Work at California State University – Long Beach (CSULB), became the PI for a new study looking at the prevalence and needs of displaced students across CSU’s 23 campuses. The project was inspired by a local news story featuring a CSULB undergraduate student who has dealt with homelessness and other problems throughout his life and education – just one example of the many college students who face housing instability and food insecurity across the country.

The project, titled Best Practices Serving Displaced and Food-Insecure Students in the CSU, involves interviews and focus groups with school staff and administrators, and a student survey. In addition to Dr. Crutchfield, the work is supported by graduate student assistants from the School of Social Work. The final product will be a report that describes current formal and informal services and supports offered to students experiencing food and housing instability, and provides data-driven recommendations for best practices for CSU campuses.

This project is an excellent example of how schools of social work can serve as an important resource and tool in the effort to understand and address homelessness in the community. Not only will this project benefit CSU’s understanding of its response to food insecurity and housing instability among its students, it will add to our understanding of the prevalence and needs of this population. Further, it has the potential to serve as a model for other schools to conduct similar inquiries.

For more information contact Rashida Crutchfield (

Blog Post Author: Amanda Aykanian, Research and Project Lead at the National Center
Special thanks to Rashida Crutchfield for contributing to the content of this blog post.


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