Fariha Raisa, Feedback Labs | September 30, 2022
Dedicated to supporting marginalized students in the recovery community, Students Recover aims to create a virtual platform to support students at minority-serving institutions that do not offer collegiate recovery programs. With a mission to center services around those who traditionally have not been represented in the recovery space, Students Recover focuses on harm reduction and multiple pathways that do not require abstinence. It strives to be an online platform to support students in a safe and inclusive environment to heal and grow while increasing a sense of belonging and community.
Since Students Recover’s work is grounded in equity and justice, it is critical to value the lived experiences of the community and not replicate the harms of systemic oppression within the organization. Additionally, because Students Recover is dedicated to providing support to those college students who come from communities most impacted by the war on drugs and are least likely to have access to recovery support services on their campus, centering the needs of those who have been most systematically marginalized is critical to the mission. Following these overarching values, Students Recover presented in a LabStorm that discussed trust-based funding, coalition building, and tiered volunteer structure.
- Expanding Through Trust Based Funders. Attendees focused on the idea of trust-based funders where a potential funder does not set all the outcomes but is instead led by the organization to see how it feels out. These progressive funders could be recommended by affinity groups that could help Students Recover connect to the right funders. Furthermore, it was suggested to start seeking out smaller amounts of initial funding, like academic research instead of philanthropies. Starting small would create the pathway for higher funding from foundations once they see the organization’s work.
- Coalition Building and University Partnerships. A lot of the discussion centered on how university professors are looking for projects where students can learn and build a meaningful community-driven project. Partnering up with local colleges for students to work for a semester or two with a stipend as well as academic credit could form an equitable pay structure. Furthermore, building a prototype to get it in front of people would allow the opportunity to get feedback from the community. Attendees also suggested starting with the group that Students Recover has right now in order to reach out to the broader community. Coalition building includes connecting to smaller organizations and thus, it was emphasized to look at existing on-campus groups that include the most marginalized students.
- Tiered Volunteer Structure & Technology for Social Impact. One innovative way of getting technological funding support during the early stage could be through presenting at accelerators. Since people who work in tech might be looking for a social impact project, they could volunteer for building the app without needing to be paid. Looking at organizations that connect app developers with volunteering opportunities was highly recommended. There were also ideas around innovative ways of funding the volunteers through a tiered structure; for example, all the volunteers would be paid but there could be an option for people to opt-out of pay if they can afford to and are just willing to give time for the experience.
At the end of the LabStorm discussion, Kristine highlighted the key takeaways that would be beneficial for their work in Students Recover. Kristine thought of forming advisory groups where the first people being hired would be students in recovery. This could be further extended to a professional advisory group to help in fundraising or other specific topics. Focusing on coalition and collaboration, Kristine would like to venture out to places where they didn’t think of collaborating before. Furthermore, they highlighted the potential utilization of the resources that already exist, particularly within higher education or higher education adjacent.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.