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About the Network

About Us

Our WHY: The vision of Embark is that any student who has experienced foster care or homelessness will have ample academic, financial, social, and emotional supports to access, navigate and complete a post-secondary education. Embark wants to help these students gain access to college and be the future leaders of Georgia. Embark is based out of the JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA.

Our Mission

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. Working in partnership is crucial to achieving our goals.  Embark works collaboratively with a number of agencies and organizations to improve the educational options for young people who have experienced foster care or homelessness.  On our statewide network partners page, you will find several key partners and their contact information.  On the students student resources page, you will find a number of community partners who work with this same group of students. 

Our History

The Embark program in Georgia is built upon the experiences and successes of other states. The first program of its kind was the Guardian Scholars program at Cal State Fullerton in 1998. This campus based program sought to identify specific supports for youth who lacked social supports but were enrolled at the institution. Similar campus based programs began to develop on other campuses in California and in other states. Later, campus based programs began to band together to share information and strategies for supporting students and developed statewide networks, such as Fostering Success Michigan and Ohio Reach. In 2014, with guidance and support from Casey Family Programs, a knowledge community within NASPA to connect programs and networks together across the country.

In Georgia, Embark was developed with support from the College Access Challenge Grant in 2012. The CACG was based in the University System of Georgia office; the focus of CACG was to increase college access for underrepresented populations in Georgia. In the first year of support from the CACG in Georgia, David Meyers and Lori Tiller from UGA were charged with developing an inventory of campus based support programs in Georgia and traveled to do site visits at several existing programs, including the Seita Scholars program at Western Michigan UniversityUW Champions at the Unviersity of Washington and Alabama REACH at the University of Alabama. Following the first CACG contract year, Fanning developed a toolkit with information and tips for campuses to reference. In the second year of support from the CACG, direct support efforts began at UGA and the statewide network was born. A conscious decision was made at that time to develop programs for students who have experienced homelessness and those who have experienced foster care, since many of the issues that these students face are similar.

Our Goals

Embark seeks to set the stage for young people who have experienced foster care or homelessness to have increased access to college and a better chance to complete college.  As part of this overall goal, we have identified several subgoals:

Statewide Network

  • To improve mechanisms for understanding how many young people enroll and complete a post-secondary education – there is not currently a good system for understanding the enrollment and graduation rates of these student groups
  • To support campus based program leaders and the Designated Points of Contact across Georgia who are providing direct services to students
  • To support and improve systems so that students who have experienced foster care or homelessness have greater opportunity to pursue their postsecondary education dreams