(Media release from Georgia Northwestern Technical College):

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) has received a $25,000 grant to provide students who are also parents with the resources to complete their college education and to enter the workforce.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) awarded the Two-Generation Innovation Grant (TGIG) to GNTC.

“The 2022-23 Two-Generation Innovation Grant will help us to successfully implement in-person events, workshops, campus activities and community partnership outreach opportunities,” said Daizha Staples, Special Populations coordinator at GNTC.

A 2019 survey of GNTC students, faculty and staff found that 48% of students are parents, 68% of their children are under the age of 6, and the vast majority of the student respondents reported they struggle to buy food and essentials each month, she said.

The support efforts will include supporting community daycare centers operated by GNTC Early Childhood Education instructors and students and educating students about resources available through community partnerships, Espyr Student Assistance Program and GNTC Resource Centers.

The TGIG funds will not only help students with those needed supplies, but also help them to improve their life skills, such as management of time, resources and mental health, Staples said.

“By creating a social network of events and resources, GNTC student parents will gain support within the college and the community,” Staples said. “By providing events and virtual workshops that are family-friendly, students will be encouraged to work together, collaborate and share ideas and experiences that have helped them overcome barriers to educational success.”

“We are grateful to be awarded the Two-Generation Innovation Grant through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning,” said Dr. Heidi Popham, GNTC president. “The TGIG funds gives us the opportunity to strengthen existing programs and expand support resources for our students.”

“GNTC remains focused on student success, and these funds assist us in removing hurdles that may prevent our students from completing their education and entering the workforce,” Popham said. “We greatly appreciate our partnership with DECAL.”

Staples attests to the difference these resources can make to students.

One single parent received professional clothes from one of our clothing closets for a job interview and got the job, she explained. A homeless student who had classes on campus and lived in their car received hygiene products and food they could not afford after paying for gas.

She said she has also successfully connected students with community partners for help. For example, a student who suffered from tooth pain could not afford to pay for the dental procedure, so Staples referred the student to a community organization that provided free dental care.

“We are proud of the connections forged at the local level through these grant opportunities and believe that all Georgians benefit from connecting early childhood, workforce and post-secondary institutions,” according to a DECAL news release.

GNTC’s participating partners are Espyr, the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, Family Resource Agency of Georgia, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Kennesaw State University Children and Family Programs.

GNTC received a $25,000 TGIG from DECAL in 2021-22 to establish Resource Centers on all six campuses, as well as to provide other resources and workshops throughout the year to support student parents.

GNTC also received two TGIGs grant in 2020 from DECAL. The Capacity Building Grant for $15,000 was used to start the college’s first Resource Center while a $25,000 Implementation Grant was used to equip and stock the center.

Resource Centers have diapers and baby wipes; male and female hygiene products; children’s “tool kits” that include books, outdoor playing materials and more. GNTC operates Resource Centers and Food Pantries on all six campuses.

GNTC Special Populations Coordinator Daizha Staples sorts donated clothes in the clothing closet on the Floyd County Campus in Rome.