The College of Coastal Georgia stands strong on its foundation of being an accessible institution which consistently provides access to higher education.
The college is now working to stretch that philosophy to include a demographic that is rapidly changing and growing in the coastal community and the state as a whole.
The college has launched a new program to help provide extra support for the Latino community in the Golden Isles. The free program, tagged “De Sueños a Realidad,” or “From Dreams to Reality,” is meant to provide students and families with access to educational opportunities, financial options and transitional support during their first years of college.
Clayton Daniels, assistant vice president for enrollment management at the college, and his team have implemented the new program thanks to a multi-level $15,000 grant which is intended to make the project sustainable and ongoing.
The program works with current Latino college students to act as mentors for high schoolers who fall into the demographic.
The college also is reaching out to Latino students currently enrolled to develop a student advisory group, which it hopes will provide guidance to the college community and focus on recommendations for how the school can better support its current and upcoming Latino community, Daniels said.
The college wants to work with families in the same demographic who may have bypassed college and have children who are the first generation to be college-bound.
The college will hold workshops with Latino families at area high schools to help coach them through the process of college applications and instruct them on how to file for financial aid, among other things.
“This is not intended to make all students go to the College of Coastal Georgia, though,” Daniels said. “We want our college to be a friendly place for Latino students and we want to welcome them to our campus, but these family workshops are also meant to help students and families explore all their options.”
Currently, Latinos make up about 5 percent of the college’s student body, but as Daniels has noted through tracking changes on campus, the population is growing and will likely continue to do so, he said.
“It is a growing group of our student base,” Daniels said. “The Latino population is growing at the middle school and early high school levels. That’s the main group we are working to reach. We want to be there to help these students and their families understand that college is possible and attainable.”
The college is teaming up with the Glynn County School System and the city of Brunswick to enhance its efforts and reach a more broad range of possible candidates to serve in mentor roles or as students who would benefit from the program, Daniels said.
It also is using its own resources by tapping into the Latino American Association, which is set up on the college campus to help strengthen its reach, he said.
“We want to make sure that our college never loses touch with its community,” Daniels said. “This program will help us keep a live connection between our services and the needs of our community.”
This is the first time the college has enacted a Latino-based initiative to address that specific community, and the college is not alone in the effort. Four colleges in the University System of Georgia have been awarded the same Latino outreach grant.
Dalton State University, which Daniels said has a Latino population on campus of about 25 percent, has been awarded the grant, as has Georgia Gwinnett College, which has a Hispanic population of about 15 percent, and Savannah State University, where about 4 percent of the population is labeled Hispanic.
Daniels and his team at the college met Thursday for its first community and family-based outreach meeting for area high school and middle school students and their guardians.
About 25 students from both Brunswick High School and Glynn Academy have signed on to take part in the outreach program. He hopes to see those numbers grow in the future.
“We are just gearing up now,” Daniels said. “We have a lot of lessons to learn and we will be communicating with other school districts that have used such a program to see how we can make ours even stronger. We’re very excited about this new venture.”