MATC FAST Fund: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, to announce investment in Midwest colleges student emergency funds

Milwaukee, WI — College affordability is on the minds of many Americans and is being partially addressed by President Biden’s college debt forgiveness initiative. Nonetheless, basic needs insecurity including homelessness and food insecurity, remain a significant problem for today’s college and university students.

On Thursday, September 8th at 3 pm Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s largest union of college and university faculty and professionals, will tour the Milwaukee Area Technical downtown campus, meet with MATC students, FAST Fund staff, and community partners and announce a major investment in a Midwest student emergency fund consortium.

She will be announcing a major investment in a first-in-the-nation collaboration between union professionals and students in the Great Lakes region designed to address basic needs insecurity among college students. The meeting will be held in the bridge between the H and the T building at the downtown MATC campus. For a map of the campus, please click here:

The Local 212 MATC FAST Fund was the first FAST Fund established six years ago. Last year it provided assistance to 765 MATC students. A 2021 survey found that 93% of FAST Fund students graduated or were continuing their education.

“I would not be where I am today,” proclaimed Bria Burris, an MATC graduate and current MATC board member, “without the help of the FAST fund. More and more students are juggling work, school and family responsibilities. When your car breaks down or a child has a medical emergency Pell grants and part time work fall short. The FAST Fund is a life-line that helps students meet their basic needs so they can focus on their academic goals.”

National surveys indicate that during the pandemic 75% of college students experienced some form of basic needs insecurity. Even before the pandemic the most comprehensive survey found that almost 50% of students were food insecure and 20% housing insecure.

“When I attended college, a Pell Grant and part time work were enough to cover my costs,” said Dr. Lisa Conley, a Biological Sciences instructor and President of the union representing MATC’s faculty and professional staff. ”Today Pell grants cover less than 60% of the cost of attending a two-year college, with technical college students having the largest amount of unmet need at about $9,000. This investment by the AFT demonstrates our union’s commitment to our students.”

The FAST Fund is a faculty- led non-profit organization that was initiated by the American Federation of Teachers Local 212, Milwaukee Area Technical College’s faculty and professional staff union, in 2016.

The American Federation of Teachers is the oldest teacher’s union in the United States and represents more higher education employees than any other union. The FAST Fund is operated in partnership with Believe in Students, a national non-profit organization focused on addressing basic needs insecurity among college students.