Through $1.5 million in gifts from two foundations, a statewide network housed at the University of Georgia is expanding efforts to improve educational outcomes for students who have experienced foster care and/or homelessness.
Embark Georgia, housed at the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, received $800,000 from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and $750,000 from the Joseph B. Whitehead Child Well-Being Fund in fall 2022 to strengthen the network across the state.
Since 2012, Embark Georgia has worked closely with agencies across the state to increase college access and retention for students who have experienced foster care or homelessness. With this new investment, Embark Georgia will connect professionals across the state through regional coalitions and provide additional training opportunities. These professionals work directly with these students at campuses across the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia.
Beginning in late 2023, Embark Georgia will partner with the Campus Awareness, Resource & Empowerment Services (CARES) Center at Kennesaw State University to provide training for approximately 30 campuses on topics such as communicating available services to students, raising funds, increasing collaboration with community-based organizations near their respective campuses, and updating food pantries.
The funding will also underwrite the Embark Georgia Leadership Conference, an event held every 18 months, and the Embark Summer Precollegiate Program, an annual event at UGA for high school youth in foster care to learn more about postsecondary education.
“(The Embark Summer Precollegiate Program) helped me see what I wanted in life,” said a youth currently in foster care who attended the summer program in June 2023.
Fewer than 10% of students who have experienced foster care earn a four-year college degree, studies show. UGA’s public service and outreach mission is dedicated to improving the lives of Georgians and the highly regarded Embark Georgia network is just one example of the innovative programs housed at the university that are having an impact.
“The challenges to postsecondary success that young people who have experienced foster care and/or homelessness face can significantly impact their futures,” said Matt Bishop, director of the UGA Fanning Institute. “We are grateful to these foundations for their remarkable investments and leadership in this important field. Embark Georgia is grateful to have these resources to better serve more young people in pursuing their educational goals.”