“This tremendous donation from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust will have a powerful impact for many of our students,” said President of Forsyth Tech Janet Spriggs. “Our student population, in normal times and more so now, faces numerous challenges that are not academic-related, that are barriers to their academic success in the classroom as well as their daily lives. We want our students to be successful and we realize helping students succeed means caring for the whole person and supporting their needs both inside and outside the classroom.”
In Fall 2019, the college began working in collaborative teams of faculty and staff to research and identify alternative ways to provide students help completing their degrees and managing “life happens” moments. These collaboratives provided insight into the barriers students must overcome, not only to stay in school but to have food, childcare, transportation and housing. Forsyth Tech recognized the crucial need for a “web” of services that includes support both on and off-campus through better connections with community resources.
“On March 13, Friday, the 13th when COVID-19 entered our lives, we knew we needed to provide additional services for students, and Forsyth Tech Cares was born,” said Stacy Waters Bailey, executive director, Student Support Services. “We were moving classes online and knew there were a disproportionate number of students that did not have resources available to work remotely. There would be needs for computers, internet access, emergency financial assistance, and making sure they are doing okay mentally and emotionally. Since that time, we’ve had almost 1,500 requests through Forsyth Tech Cares for everything from food and rent to just needing to know someone cares. This funding will be transformative.”
Through COVID-19, Forsyth Tech Cares became a comprehensive approach for connecting students, staff and faculty to the resources and support services they need. Now, with the grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, we can expand our partnerships and build a sustainable network of services to support the holistic needs of our students. The proposed expansion of the new Forsyth Tech Cares office will assist students when they need tutoring or other academic success support, while also helping students when “life happens” obstacles threaten their education.
The College has goals of increasing persistence for all students, but especially underserved students, across semesters by at least 15 percent, and retention for the most vulnerable students by at least 20 percent over three years. The grant will provide funds to help the College build wrap-around services including support for childcare, transportation, disability testing, legal aid, healthcare and a software to enable Forsyth Tech Cares Navigator (staff) to connect students with the resources they need to keep moving forward. In addition, the funds will help Forsyth Tech provide educational workshops on budgeting, personal growth and parenting.
“It is up to us, not only to recognize and understand our student’s challenges, but to equip Forsyth Tech with a web of creative, innovative and transformative resources to help them push past barriers threatening to derail their higher education journey, ultimately keeping them from advancing socially and economically,” said Amy Braswell, grants compliance manager. “Many of our students leave before completing their degree because they have experienced challenges that force them to choose between staying in school or dealing with these critical issues. We want that to help break that pattern.”