Hiwassee College helps former foster youth adjust to college

Hiwassee College helps former foster youth adjust to college life

Posted:
Hiwassee College in Madisonville has launched a program to help foster kids who have aged out of the system and can't afford the cost of attending college. Hiwassee College in Madisonville has launched a program to help foster kids who have aged out of the system and can't afford the cost of attending college.
The HOPE program pays for college tuition for young adults who've aged out of the foster care system. HOPE stands for "Home, Opportunity, Possibility, Education." The HOPE program pays for college tuition for young adults who've aged out of the foster care system. HOPE stands for "Home, Opportunity, Possibility, Education."
"It's me putting forth the effort, me deciding what my life was like, something I didn't have the option to do when I was in foster care," said freshman Becca Griffey. "It's me putting forth the effort, me deciding what my life was like, something I didn't have the option to do when I was in foster care," said freshman Becca Griffey.
"They may not make it to college or get lost in the shuffle," explained music professor Alan Eleazer. "They may not make it to college or get lost in the shuffle," explained music professor Alan Eleazer.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

MADISONVILLE (WATE) - A college in East Tennessee has developed a program to support former foster youth as they adjust to college life.

Hiwassee College in Madisonville has launched a program to help foster kids who have aged out of the system and can't afford the cost of attending college.

Freshman Becca Griffey is doing something she'd never thought she'd be able to do: going to college for free.

"It's me putting forth the effort, me deciding what my life was like, something I didn't have the option to do when I was in foster care," said Griffey.

She is part of the HOPE program at Hiwassee College, which pays for college tuition for young adults who've aged out of the foster care system. HOPE stands for "Home, Opportunity, Possibility, Education."

Griffey bounced around from different foster homes after her mother signed away her custody when she was 16. Now, she feels the college life gives her independence she'd never had.

"Knowing that I have this place and that it's in my hands and in my control, and they can't say I don't want you anymore," she said.

The program also pays for those who were in foster care to live on campus, including paying for their meals.

The college is matching a $5,000 state grant, which is part of the extended benefits the state offers to those who aged out of the foster care system.

A thousand young adults did so last year in Tennessee.

"They may not make it to college or get lost in the shuffle," explained music professor Alan Eleazer.

He is the director of the college's HOPE program, which is made up of six students who also  have mentors, nearby families that will spend time with the students.

"Trips to the beauty shop, to the store, little gifts on their birthday. Just little touches," said Eleazer.

Griffey says the chance to go to school has also made her more social. 

"I've met a few friends I can really trust," she said.

The program will help her provide for a better life and a better future.

Middle Tennessee State University has developed a similar program. Efforts are underway to expand support at other colleges and universities in the state.

Governor Haslam last week announced he would extend benefits to every single foster child through a public-private partnership, increasing the benefits to 40 percent more of the young adults who aged out of foster care.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.