New FAU Program Supports Foster Care and Homeless Students
Less than 3 percent of youth raised in foster care graduate from a four-year college. This startling statistic from the National Foster Youth Institute has led Florida Atlantic University’s University Advising Services (UAS) to launch “Educate Tomorrow,” a new academic advising program that will support foster and homeless youth on a Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) or homeless (HL) waiver at FAU. The program is the first of its kind in Palm Beach County and the third in Florida.
FAU’s “Educate Tomorrow” program kicked off in August, and offers academic coaching and advising, mentoring, as well as access to on-campus resources to help these students achieve success. Jasmine Briggs, assistant director of “Educate Tomorrow” at FAU, said the current focus of the program is to connect with first-time-in-college (FTIC) foster and homeless students.
“These are the students we want to meet with right away and get them plugged in and connected to resources on campus,” said Briggs. “We hope that by getting them involved they will feel more at home.”
There are currently 24 FTIC students in the program, and an additional 138 students already at FAU on a DCF or HL waiver that the program hopes to serve.
Shultz Pierre Louis, 18, began at FAU this past summer and is part of the “Educate Tomorrow” program. He had a typical childhood growing up in Miami until his mother passed away and his father had trouble making ends meet. After being placed in DCF care, Pierre Louis decided to dive into academics because that’s what his mom would have wanted.
“I always saw my mom working her butt off, and I know she would have wanted the best education for me,” he said. “FAU has been great so far, and I couldn’t imagine being here without Jasmine’s support.”
Pierre Louis meets with Briggs every two weeks to talk about how his classes are going and to get information he needs.
“She was able to help me out with questions I had about financial aid,” he said. “She’s always telling me about resources on campus and student programs and activities that I’ve never even heard about. It’s nice to know about them, but she never pressures me into anything.”
FAU is one of the nation’s leading centers of appreciative advising, a new approach to advising that is shown to increase student retention and success rates. Advisers are trained to develop relationships with students by asking positive, open-ended questions, learning about their strengths, skills, hopes and dreams and designing a plan for them to achieve success.
“This new program is the perfect fit for FAU because of the appreciative advising framework that we already have in place,” said Joe Murray, assistant dean of UAS.
FAU’s “Educate Tomorrow” program is funded by the nonprofit organization of the same name, which is funded by The Children’s Trust , an organization in Miami-Dade County dedicated to improving the lives of children and families.