Grant will help UNT support students exiting foster care system

The University of North Texas will use a $40,000 grant to help kids coming out of foster care.

Those students usually have little to no family support to help with the transition to college life and the grant is the push that could make the difference.

About 38,000 students are enrolled at the University of North Texas, and among them are 128 who are attending after aging out of the foster care system.

“Somebody contacted me and they were telling me about P.U.S.H. and I didn’t know what P.U.S.H. was,” said student Keyleon Hamilton. “They've really been helping me a lot.”

P.U.S.H. stands for Persevere Until Success Happens and was started in 2012 by Professor Brenda Sweeten when she learned a former foster care student with a 1,400 SAT score dropped out of college because she did not have enough support.

The State of Texas says only 18 percent of kids coming out of foster care each year attend college and only three percent graduate.

“I think the best part about P.U.S.H., I think the best part about the Summer Bridge Program is that we're providing hope,” Sweeten said.

The Summer Bridge Program, which just launched this past summer, brings in students coming from foster care to college life early.

“When I came here during the summer I had no idea what UNT was about. So I had a free dorm, free meal plan, they helped me get my GPA together, we had tutoring everyday -- so it was a lot of help,” Hamilton said.

UNT now has a $40,000 grant from the Carl and Florence King Foundation to assist even more teens from the child welfare system to higher ed.

“It’s a bridge,” Sweeten said. “It’s a bridge to their future and it’s a bridge to education. It’s a bridge to jobs,” Sweeten said.