WESTCHESTER, IL, Aug 28, 2019 – By Ashlie Singleton, Regional Manager of Sales & Operations for Follett Higher Education Group
Recently, Follett’s ASU Sun Devil Campus Store team took some time away from the fast-pace of fall classes starting to meet and connect with a group of incoming freshmen at Arizona State University. These students are part of ASU Bridging Success, a group that connects foster youth to ASU and supports and mentors them until they graduate with a college degree. As part of Bridging Success Early Start, a week-long program where foster youth move on campus early, meet other students and learn about ASU and campus life, students stopped by to tour the bookstore and talk to the ASU Tempe Campus Store team.
Students shared their activities that week, which campus and dorm they had moved into and even the dream boards they made that afternoon with the store team as we all crowded the store entrance. The store team introduced ourselves to approximately 35 students and made sure they knew that, like Bridging Success, our team is here to support them no matter which campus they attend.
We announced that we were donating $50 gift cards to each of them that day to celebrate the start of their ASU journey. As they excitedly asked questions one after another, one student asked if they had to spend the gift card that day or on something specific. Confirming that they did not, the same student quietly said to another student “Good, I need to save it to pay for my books.” We then announced that Follett is donating scholarship funds to fill the gap to cover their books and course materials!
With that one statement, and Follett’s $25,000 donation to support Bridging Success students for the 2019-2020 academic year, we immediately helped lower the stress level for these students in ways we can only imagine. As they shopped and toured, several students asked if they’d heard correctly, questioning multiple times to make sure they understood and finally, hugging us and each other and wiping away tears. More than one student sought us out to say they had no plan to pay for their books and, despite classes starting in seven days, they didn’t know what they were going to do.
For the hour or so the students were in the store, we toured, we showed them how to Shop By Author, we showed them the ASU app, what they could find there and how to print their alphabetized and personalized booklist (they were really excited about that) right from the app. We talked about rental and digital and ways to save and we shared information on hiring and timing in case they were interested in seasonal work later in the semester. But mostly, we sat back and watched them shop and talk and ask questions, knowing we did something good that day.
Follett’s scholarship donation allowed us to make a significant impact in the start of these student’s college careers. We delivered on our Purpose that day of improving the world by inspiring learning and shaping education and that’s what it’s really about.
Statistics show that only three percent* of foster youth graduate college. To learn more about what ASU is doing to change that, visit: https://students.asu.edu/foster-youth/bridging-success.