Kennesaw State and The Beacon Foundation Celebrate Eight Years of Student Support


KENNESAW, Georgia (May 2, 2022) — For the past eight years, support from the Beacon Foundation Charitable Trust has helped send Kennesaw State University students on trips abroad, while providing food and housing for students in need.

Since 2014, The Beacon Foundation has donated a total of $453,000 to Campus Outreach, Resource and Empowerment Services (CARE) and KSU Journey Honors College. That amount included $10,000 each for COVID relief at the peak of the virus. Elizabeth Smith Williams, Cobb County Administrator and KSU Foundation partner, said she was proud of the effect the Foundation’s support has had on the Kennesaw State community and its students.

Elizabeth Smith Williams

“Our partnership with KSU has been incredibly rewarding, especially when it comes to addressing student food and housing insecurity on campus. This is one of the achievements that is directly related to our mission,” she said.

The Beacon Foundation, led by Williams and his family, was established in 2008 with the goal of providing poverty relief and experiences not otherwise funded through traditional means. The Foundation supports arts experiences for K-12 students, student travel, housing and food assistance and more.

Williams said she felt since moving to Cobb County in 2007 that she had a responsibility to give back to students and young people in her own backyard.

CARE Services founding executive director Marcy Stidum said the Beacon Foundation is one of the reasons her organization is where it is today.

Stidum said Beacon has supported CARE over the years in a variety of ways, including funding a 1-bed, 1-bath apartment lease on the Kennesaw campus for temporary emergency housing for students who find themselves homeless. She said the temporary accommodation was the first of its kind to be integrated with university accommodation.

Since that initial funding, Foundation support has grown to allow for annual funding of a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment lease on the Kennesaw campus, as well as emergency hotel stays, rental assistance, shopping from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and meal plans for students in need.

“Thanks to investments and support from donors like the Beacon Foundation, CARE has become a national model for other higher education institutions,” Stidum said.

A year after Beacon Foundation launched its partnership with CARE Services, it also began supporting KSU Journey Honors College and its President’s Emerging Global Scholars (PEGS) program. PEGS’ mission is to accelerate the personal, professional, and academic development of exceptional honors students. One of the main ways the program achieves this goal is by providing opportunities to travel and study abroad.

Williams said travel offers a new perspective for people who have not yet experienced different cultures, but it could also lead to networking opportunities that could lead to future employment or scholarship. Ugena Whitlock, acting dean of KSU Journey Honors College, agreed.

“Travel is an essential part of a well-rounded education, and thanks to Elizabeth and the Beacon Foundation, more of our students are able to broaden their horizons, both in education and in the experience of life. life,” Whitlock said. “The Beacon Foundation and its supporters are integral to the success of KSU Journey Honors College and its students.”

Williams said she believes in the power of education and that with every support KSU receives, more students can focus on their education and their future, rather than the barriers to success.

– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Judy Pishnery

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections, and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and around the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated (R2) doctoral research institution, placing it among an elite group of only 6% of US colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit


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