Kennesaw State serves national need with training to support homeless college students

KENNESAW, Ga. | Nov 1, 2021

As more college students nationwide face homelessness and food insecurity, Kennesaw State University’s Campus Awareness Resource and Empowerment Services (CARES) has emerged as a leader, creating practical solutions to help students in need.

Now in its 10th year, KSU’s CARE Services is dedicated to helping students who are experiencing foster care, homelessness and/or food insecurity. The organization serves as the single point of access to services and resources both on and off campus for Kennesaw State students.  

Photo of student inside ASCEND house on Marietta Campus

“The pandemic worsened homelessness and food insecurity issues for many students who lost jobs or took pay cuts,” said Marcy Stidum, director of CARE Services. “As those needs have changed for our students, we’ve been successful in expanding our programs and services for the KSU community, such as adding our ASCEND program.” ASCEND offers mentoring and on-campus housing options where students who experienced homelessness and/or foster care while in high school can live together at Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus. 

The organization is now reaching beyond the campus community with the launch of the CARE RoadMap, a customized program to provide training to colleges and universities to help students in need, as part of the University’s annual observance of Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 1-6.

“We developed the CARE RoadMap to ensure that any academic institution can assist their special populations of students in need as they transition through college,” Stidum said. “We have seen firsthand how beneficial these initiatives are to Kennesaw State students, and we are eager to expand that impact by sharing this proven model with other schools.”

At the national level, KSU’s CARE Services is recognized as National Best Practice Model by the National Center for Homeless Education, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and SchoolHouse Connection.

In the 10 years that CARE Services has been in operation, nearly 2,500 students have been provided services, including 44 students housed in temporary apartments and 111 students helped financially to prevent eviction and homelessness.

Over the past decade, they have provided nearly $300,000 in direct financial assistance, with nearly $71,000 given to Kennesaw State students from July to September of this year.

Donations from individuals, foundations and corporations have added new levels of aid for emergency housing, supplies and food. Kennesaw State was the first university in the country to add an emergency housing room on campus with support from the Beacon Foundation Charitable Trust. The addition and expansion of campus food pantries at both the Marietta and Kennesaw campuses was made possible through the ongoing support from grocery retailer Kroger.  

Serta Simmons Bedding, one of the largest manufacturers, marketers and suppliers of mattresses in North America, will also support KSU’s CARE Services and the CARE RoadMap by providing participating institutions with mattresses and pillows for their students in need.

In addition to the CARE RoadMap and two on-campus food pantries, KSU’s CARE Services also operates three other supportive efforts:

·    Emergency Assistance helps students overcome unforeseen hardships that hinder academic progression by providing them with financial assistance. 

·    KSU AmeriCorps VISTA Network is a community of students and others who provide resources for students in a national effort to end poverty on campus.  

·    GEAR UP Georgia Priority Model is designed to support high school students who are homeless or in youth foster care and want to succeed in college.

For more information about KSU CARE Services, visit

Tiffany Capuano

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit