Helping Students who spent time in foster care obtain degrees

“We want to make sure that they have the opportunity to complete degrees at the same rate as all our students do in the student population so we’re excited about that,” Tadlock said. “I think we’re the only place in Florida that will have that available, so I think it’s really exciting.”

USF is fostering hope for some students by implementing St. Pete Pearls, a new program that seeks to close the degree attainment gap for individuals who have been involved in the foster care system.

Research by the U.S. Education Commission in 2019 found only 3%, or 13,200, of the 440,000 kids in foster care will obtain a bachelor’s degree, but the new St. Pete Pearls program aims to increase that percentage.

The program, developed at the St. Pete campus during summer 2020 and currently being implemented across all campuses, focuses on providing students who spent time in the foster care system with resources to help them overcome any barriers they face during their time at USF.

Joseph Contes, assistant director of Student Outreach and Support on the St. Pete campus, spearheaded the creation and implementation of the St. Pete Pearls program to bridge a gap in foster student achievement. Based on research by the developers of the St. Pete Pearls program, 80% of foster children across the country want to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but only 10% actually complete a program, according to Contes…

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