UNT PUSH program receives $85k Santander Foundation grant to help youth transition from foster care into higher education

The grant will fund the UNT Summer Bridge Program, which provides housing, resources and early coursework to students who’ve been touched by the foster care system.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas received an $85,000 grant for its Persevere UNTil Success Happens program. PUSH helps young adults who age out of foster care achieve educational success at UNT by focusing on each student’s academic, financial and career success, as well as social well-being.

The Santander Consumer USA, Inc. Foundation grant will be used to further fund the Summer Bridge Program, an initiative that provides housing, programming, early coursework and college transition services to incoming freshmen and transfer students who have been touched by the foster care system.

“Approximately 18 percent of foster care alumni attend college and of those, only 3 percent graduate,” said Brenda Sweeten, PUSH advisor and UNT foster care liaison. “This grant will provide these youth with a supportive pathway to higher education and meaningful careers and give hope to young people who may have felt there was none there for them.”

Sweeten helped create PUSH, a partnership between the Department of Social Work in the College of Health and Public Service and the UNT Division of Student Affairs, as a student organization in 2012 after learning many former foster care students needed a support system and resources to help them succeed at UNT.

PUSH currently serves hundreds of former foster children and helps these at-risk students thrive on campus. This grant will allow PUSH to serve nearly 20 additional foster care alumni next summer.

“Programs like PUSH show students that UNT is a caring community with limitless opportunities,” said David Wolf, vice president for university advancement. “We’re so grateful for Santander’s help in providing vital resources for student success.”

Neale Chumbler, dean of the College of Health and Public Service, says the Santander Foundation contribution will help PUSH transform even more lives at UNT.

“It’s important that these students are set up for success and provided with a supportive network to guarantee that they complete a high-quality education program they need and deserve,” Chumbler said. “This grant from Santander Consumer USA will allow the university to open our arms and welcome even more of these students who have already faced enough adversity in life and provide them with opportunities they may not otherwise have had. We are grateful for the foundation’s kindness and generosity.”

About the Santander Consumer USA Foundation
The Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity established in 2004, collaborates with and invests in agencies and organizations that provide positive social and cultural change in communities where we do business.