United Way Bay Area opens new SparkPoint program at San Francisco State University

Author: Strategic Marketing and Communications
March 19, 2024
Man behind podium speaking to crowd.
Photo Credit: Corinne Allen

SF State Director of Food+Shelter+Success Christopher Lujan kicked off the SparkPoint launch event with opening remarks.

The latest SparkPoint program is the first located on a four-year university campus

SAN FRANCISCO — March 19, 2024 — Leaders with United Way Bay Area (UWBA) were joined today by San Francisco State University (SF State) officials, faculty and students for the opening of a new SparkPoint program on the college campus. SparkPoint is a cornerstone in UWBA’s poverty-fighting efforts where clients create pathways to long-term financial prosperity by working with free, expert financial coaches to set goals, create financial plans and learn new strategies for long-term financial success. 

SF State students and members of the community will access financial coaching and wrap-around services through the new SparkPoint program, which marks the 24th SparkPoint program throughout the region powered by United Way Bay Area, and the first at a four-year institution of higher learning. Expert financial coaches work with students to set goals, create long-term financial plans and teach new strategies for long-term financial success. SparkPoint centers also provide a variety of free resources such as one-on-one career coaching, tax preparation and credit counseling.

“United Way Bay Area is thrilled to open this SparkPoint program at SF State, and we’re excited to see the impact these services and resources will have for the students and families who need them the most,” said Nicole Harden, Vice President of Economic Success for United Way Bay Area. “These scholars are doing the work to create pathways to prosperity for themselves and their families, and we are happy to be here cheering them on and providing the wrap-around services needed to support them through our SparkPoint program.” 

In addition to financial coaching and resources, students and families can also receive resources to meet basic needs like food, housing and utilities. SparkPoint services are provided at no cost. Institutions of higher learning often serve as the venue where people begin their path out of poverty and start the journey toward financial security and prosperity.

“We take pride in helping our students achieve upward social mobility and this new SparkPoint program will ensure more students can attain that,” SF State Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Miguel Hernández said. “That’s because when students have their basic needs met, they are more likely to perform well academically and ultimately graduate.”

According to research, students who cannot consistently meet their basic needs — like food and housing — often cope with these challenges by dropping classes, working more hours and even skipping semesters, all of which makes them less likely to complete their degrees or skills training. 1 in 4 students at community colleges regularly can’t afford three meals per day, and many are the first in their families to enroll in school. 

According to quantitative research released by United Way Bay Area, the SparkPoint program measurably improves student persistence and advancement compared to students not receiving support through the program. Students who participated in SparkPoint were 127% more likely to remain enrolled in college. 

The new SparkPoint program at SF State is located at Centennial Village, 750 Font Blvd., Suite 5000, San Francisco, CA 94132.

Students and families can visit the SparkPoint program during normal operating hours, or email basicneeds@sfsu.edu for further information and assistance. 


About United Way Bay Area

United Way Bay Area (UWBA) mobilizes the Bay Area to assist people living in poverty and to dismantle the root causes of poverty. One of the most respected and highly effective philanthropic organizations fighting poverty, UWBA supports workers and students seeking employment and better careers, helps families struggling to meet basic needs, supports our neighbors toward achieving their financial stability goals, and advocates for housing justice for all Bay Area residents. Learn more at www.uwba.org.  

About San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University is a public university serving students from the San Francisco Bay Area, across California and around the world, with nationally acclaimed programs that span a broad range of disciplines. More than 23,000 students enroll at the University each year, and its nearly 287,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond. Through them — and more than 1,900 world-class faculty members — SF State proudly embraces its legacy of academic excellence, community engagement and commitment to social justice. For more information, visit sfsu.edu.