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Project Title:FORWARD: A Program for Former Foster Youth, Orphans, and Wards of the Court Institution Name:Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Innovation Category:Retention/Completion Project Director:Kay Angrove, Assistant Vice President for Academic AffairsContact Information:(936) 294-2232, forward@shsu.eduWebsite: http://www.shsu.edu/forward
Project Description:

The mission of SHSU’s FORWARD Program is to empower former foster youth, orphans, and wards of the state by providing the support system necessary to pursue higher education and transition smoothly through college. FORWARD serves as a resource to help the students build meaningful relationships within and without the university that are important to successful personal and professional achievements. 

FORWARD is administered by and funded through a committee representing academic affairs (student success initiatives, advising and mentoring center, grants office, department of sociology), enrollment management (orientation, residence life, career services, financial aid, admissions), and student services (student activities, student money management center). 

  • Thinking Forward - Help current foster youth, orphans, and wards of the state know that attending college, especially at SHSU, is a possibility and that they need to begin plan for college now.
  • Paying, Moving, Reaching, Working, and Living Forward - Help the FORWARD students know that money is available to help them to know how to attend college, year-around housing is offered on-campus, campus and community support services are abundant, and student employment opportunities are available.
  • Graduating and Working Forward - Help FORWARD students have the tools to be contributing citizens of the communities in which they decide to live.

This program is still very new, and the outcomes are not yet identifiable.  As we continue to follow this group of students the information will be available. 

More foster youth, orphans, and wards of the court will:

  • Pursue higher education – numbers of FORWARD students
  • Successfully transition to college – retention numbers for FORWARD freshmen and transfers and continuing FORWARD online surveys
  • Successfully complete college – graduation rates for FORWARD students
Challenges/Problems Encountered:FORWARD is not truly based in any one division. In all actuality, the program includes every division on campus.  Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Student Services directly serve the students. Business and Finance handles tuition waivers and University Advancement helps raise funds for the FORWARD scholarship. The Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs (Student Success Initiatives) leads the committee, but everyone contributes. Funding comes from resources in Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management at this time. FORWARD operates on a bare-bones budget using programs already in place on campus and targeting those services to the FORWARD students.
Evaluation Approach:The FORWARD committee first sought to compile a list of FORWARD students using information from those receiving financial aid and/or the state tuition waiver for former foster youth. Using this list, the students are communicated with, surveyed, and followed.
Potential for Replication:FORWARD is easily replicated. A Casey Family Programs publication (link below) can help colleges and universities develop a similar program. The publication includes a how-to guide and examples of successful programs across the United States. SHSU did not create a new position to implement this program. A main contact office (Student Success Initiatives) was determined, but the university-wide committee meets monthly to sustain the program. 
Additional Resources:www.casey.org/resources/publications/SupportingSuccess.htm
CEO-to-CEO Contact:NA
Date Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011