Grants to Benefit Dalton State Students


Two grants recently awarded to Dalton State’s Dean of Students Office will mean more assistance with basic needs and more services for students.  

Funds from the $42,000 Embark Georgia grant, awarded by the University of Georgia’s JW Fanning Institution for Leader Development and Embark Georgia, will be used to help connect foster students to mentors, as well as provide financial assistance.  

An AmeriCorps VISTA Grant will fund four full-time VISTA service members on campus that will be responsible for developing programs to help alleviate basic need insecurities for students.  

“These grants will go directly to making sure our students succeed,” said Heather Williams, assistant director for leadership and civic engagement. “Students cannot be successful with academics if they are worried about basic needs. Often times students who enter college after growing up in foster care don’t have someone to help them navigate the adjustment to college. These grants will help address those areas.”  

Embark Georgia works to empower local leaders and local programs to help provide more support for these students. Dalton State plans to create a new program that will specifically target students formerly in foster care. This program will provide them with financial support options, connections to supportive role models and development activities. It will also be used to expand the Birdfeeder food pantry to include more frozen and fresh food options in addition to the nonperishable and hygiene items already provided to students in need.  

“We’ll be able to better identify and support students who have experienced foster care,” said Dr. Jami Hall, dean of students. “We currently know of six actively enrolled students who identified as coming from the foster care system and anticipate that number to grow as we improve our identification process. We know only about 10% of students nationwide who were in foster care enroll in either a degree or vocational program, and of those only 26% graduate. We now have the opportunity to do a much better job meeting the needs of these students. We truly feel excited and blessed to receive funding to better assist our students who experienced foster care.”  

The AmeriCorps VISTA Grant is awarded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps VISTA is a federal antipoverty program designed to lift communities out of poverty.  

These VISTA service members will help the Dean of Students Office in creating new community programs to alleviate any basic needs securities. The programs will include advocating for minority groups, collaborations with community organizations and sustainability programs. 

“These grants give us new ways to reach some of our most vulnerable students,” Williams said.