Helping students reach their dreams

Alabama Reach helps underprivileged students succeed in college.

By Carter Boone
News Reporter

An on-campus program is helping students who are current and former foster youth, orphans, emancipated minors, wards of the state and homeless youth.

The organization, Alabama Reach, aids these students in a supportive environment that allows students the freedom to pursue higher education and successfully matriculate and graduate from college.

“The group started in 2012 and really took off in 2013,” Shannon Hubbard, current director for Alabama Reach said. “Dr. Judy Bonner, the former President of the University of Alabama, was the one who initially started the organization when she met a foster student who had an acceptance letter and needed help with getting ready for college. They soon saw how many students needed these resources.”

Shannon Hubbard, Alabama Reach Director

Hubbard is the current director of the organization and involved with the students. She has been working as the director for the past four years and has been providing students with resources and connections.

“We work with students who are in foster care, are homeless, are orphans, and a lot in between. We help them by giving them resources and community to succeed in college. We also still have students who are still in foster care as well who are students,” said Hubbard.

When talking to Hubbard, she discussed lot about the hardships of students. There are students who become homeless when they start at Alabama and end up not having the resources necessary to provide for things for school. They do not even have enough money to afford housing after paying for the tuition according to Hubbard.

“We provide scholarship money, not a lot but it is a stepping stone,” said Hubbard. “We also provide a lot of emotional, financial and academic service for students. We provide connections to other areas of campus that can help students with financial aid. If they need employment, we help them find jobs.”

Several of the students that are involved with Alabama Reach are seeking help financially. One of the ways they use to provide help to these students, besides scholarship money, is unlimited access to the food pantry here on campus in the Ferguson Center. With this unlimited access, they can pick up toiletries, food, school supplies and then box them up and make it look like a package the picked up from the Ferguson Center so they blend in.

Hubbard also mentioned that not only is this organization for resources, but also for community. She emphasized how important it is to provide community for these students. They want to provide students a community where there are others that struggle with the same things that they struggle with, to give them an easier way of connecting with other students.

“There are meetings twice a month that give an opportunity to foster a sense of community, to show that people are struggling and it’s not just you,” Cole Jones said, who is a senior volunteer at Alabama Reach through the MIS Program said. “In the meetings, they don’t drudge up the past, it’s not a pity party, it’s more like a family dinner. They talk about their classes and events on campus and sources on campus that can help each other. This is a great outlet to provide help and community for students who need help. This is one of the most important things that Alabama Reach does.”

Hubbard creates a comfortable environment for students who need a little extra help, to get to know each other and to help them succeed in college.

“I want them to thrive in their environment and to give them the opportunity and tools to make their life the way they want it,” Hubbard said.

To get more information or get in contact, click the link below to get involved with Alabama Reach

https://reach.ua.edu/