University System of Georgia
EMBARK Georgia was developed with support from the College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) in 2012. The CACG was based in the University System of Georgia office with an emphasis placed on finding ways to increase college access for underrepresented populations. As a result, EMBARK Georgia was created to address the needs of homeless students and students in foster care. The EMBARK Georgia statewide network serves post-secondary professionals and institutions to ensure connectivity, share best practices and provide information exchange among youth, community based stakeholders and K-12 educators in support of former foster and homeless youth. Georgia State University first connected with EMBARK Georgia by establishing a designated point of contact for those seeking assistance for homeless and foster students. The designated points of contact for all University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia institutions are listed on the USG website.
Over the last year, the office of the Dean of Students has built a relationship with EMBARK Georgia and researched ways and opportunities to better assist homeless students and students in foster care. With a better understanding of state and national best practices for serving the youth in this population, a direction has been developed for how to specifically assist Georgia State University students who may be dealing with these types of issues.
While many faculty and staff assist students in this population on a regular basis, establishing an organized network will allow for greater assistance to students. Staff will be able to share resources, provide appropriate and direct referrals, view the students’ needs comprehensively, provide early intervention of student issues and gain a better understanding of how Georgia State University can assist students with college success. The network will serve to provide greater college access by making students aware of the opportunities and resources available to them. EMBARK will directly impact student retention in that it seeks to provide students with the tools to remain enrolled and progress through college.
The EMBARK Network at Georgia State University will initially consist of offices that can assist students with enrollment, financial aid and housing. The goal is to address students’ immediate needs of stable housing, tuition and food insecurity. The office of the Dean of Students plans to work closely with students to provide ongoing assistance, planning and referrals through the students’ first year at Georgia State. The network will further add staff who can assist students with planning for longer term needs such as securing employment, scholarships, tutoring, academic planning, budgeting and life skills.
In addition to needing basic necessities like food and shelter, students in this population will benefit greatly from learning how to navigate college, basic life skills and after college planning. Eventually, a mentorship program will be created to provide students with a faculty or staff mentor who can assist the student for the duration of their college career, providing guidance on interpersonal skills, etiquette, personal responsibility and transitioning to career or graduate study.
It is clear that the added support, guidance and resources we can offer will allow these students to be able to stay in school and graduate. We are excited about playing a part in helping students pursue their dreams.
In conjunction with Panther Welcome, the office of the Dean of Students will host a food and toiletry drive to stock items that students may need when experiencing homelessness. If you would like to contribute, please donate nonperishable food and new toiletry items in the boxes that will be placed in designated Division of Student Affairs offices. A portion of the items collected will be donated to Panther Pantry, Georgia State University’s student food pantry. Check the Panther Welcome schedule for a list of offices where donations are accepted.