GA Partnership for Excellence in Education names Spring 2023 College Access Grant Winners

Two Chambers of Commerce will use funds to encourage post-secondary education

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February 24, 2023 – The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has selected the Quitman-Brooks County and the Barnesville-Lamar County Chambers of Commerce as winners of the Spring 2023 College Access Grant. These $3,000 minigrants, funded with support from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, go to local chambers of commerce, who may partner with school districts, colleges, and other local organizations to leverage their influence to get more residents, especially low-income and underrepresented residents, to and through college.

The Georgia Partnership began offering College Access Grants in 2013 out of a recognition that successfully completing high school and some form of post-secondary education not only benefits individuals and their families, but also enhances the wellbeing of the communities in which they live and, ultimately, the state.  Rural and nonmetro communities are given priority in the selection process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to reinvent Georgia’s education and workforce systems to ensure they meet the needs of all Georgians, especially the 20% of Georgians living in poverty and 45% of residents who have not earned a post-secondary credential,” said Dr. Dana Rickman, the president of the Georgia Partnership.  “Our North Star goal is to ensure that 65% of Georgia’s adults have earned a post-secondary credential by 2033. To reach this goal, state and community leaders will need to create multiple pathways for recent high school graduates and working adults to enroll in post-secondary programs and complete credentials of value.”

Brooks County, along the Florida border between Thomasville and Valdosta, will be using their minigrant award to support a college awareness and support program at Brooks County High School. The program will include tours to VSU and Wiregrass Technical College, and Financial Aid and SAT support.  Importantly, the grants will also support parent engagement among program participants.

Lamar County, northwest of Macon, is the home of Gordon State College.  “We are excited to partner and support Gordon State College in their dual enrollment work,” said Bianca Romero, President of the Barnesville-Lamar Chamber. “We strongly believe ‘Unity in the Community’ will be the driving force for economic and workforce development in Lamar County and the region.” The minigrant will support Gordon State’s Dual Enrollment Transition Campaign, increasing outreach to dual enrollment partners across their service region to expand awareness of early college credit opportunities as well as helping students transition into college courses and go from credit-earners to college completers.  “Our hope is to bring human capital to our communities through innovative learning opportunities for our students and improved partnerships and services,” said Dr. Kirk Nooks, president of Gordon State. “At Gordon State College, dual enrollment students receive immense encouragement and support, empowering them to become their very best. Gordon State helps these students to see great possibilities for their lives, and then provides every resource, opportunity, and means of support to make those aspirations a reality.”

“Partnerships are the key to strong outcomes,” said Dr. Rickman of the Georgia Partnership.  “All parts of the educational and economic ecosystem affect each other.  By offering these minigrants, we seek to support the development of strong programs, while also encouraging the strong partnerships that our communities, especially our smaller and more rural communities, need to thrive.”

Founded in 1992 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education consists of business, education, community and government leaders who share a vision of improved education.  An independent organization, the Partnership is working to be Georgia’s foremost change agent in education.  The non-partisan, non-profit Georgia Partnership takes lead roles in efforts to impact education policies and practices for the improvement of student achievement.  More information is available at