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September 1, 2022 – The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has selected four chambers of commerce as winners of the Fall 2022 College Access Grant. These $3,000 grants go to local chambers of commerce, who may partner with school districts, colleges, and other local organizations to leverage their influence to get more rural 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.
“Right now, Georgia is experiencing a talent-gap,” said Dr. Dana Rickman, president of the Georgia Partnership. “Employers cannot find enough employees to fill the jobs we have. The Georgia Partnership has long promoted that fair access to educational and workforce pathways is an economic imperative for individuals and for the state’s overall economic well-being. We’ve been really pleased by the initiatives developed by previous grant winners and are excited to see how these four chambers of commerce use these grant funds to encourage high school students and adults to further their education.”
Current minigrant awards are supported in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, to encourage local chambers to have a more active role in supporting their community workforce pipeline through getting involved with the education pipeline. “The Georgia Chamber is proud to partner with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education on this vitally important grant,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO, Chris Clark. “Our continued and unwavering support of those initiatives statewide that further the advancement of underrepresented rural students into higher education, through the work of local chambers, reaffirms our strongest commitment to serving these communities.”
Selected programs must demonstrate strong local partnerships and target students or adults from low-income or underrepresented groups. Grant recipient Christie Moore of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber said, “We are thrilled to receive this support to help reach some of the most vulnerable youth in our community- those who reside in foster care youth homes. This program will specifically engage students in career orientation and workforce readiness activities to ensure that students have the tools and support to envision and plan for their futures beyond high school graduation.” The process is intended to bring chambers into closer partnership with schools and other stakeholders. Cindy Williams, CEO of the Cartersville-Bartow Chamber, said about preparing their application that “the planning process has allowed us to bring together partners and resources in our community that have not previously worked together. This grant opportunity has expanded our horizons and challenged us to think bigger.”
The College Access Grant program will offer another round of funding in Spring of 2023.
Fall 2022 College Access Grant Winners:
- Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Chattahoochee Tech, the Etowah Scholarship Foundation, and Georgia Highlands College to offer two half-day college access sessions including FAFSA completion and college application support for native Spanish speaking members of the community.
- Gordon County Chamber of Commerce is working with Calhoun City Schools to offer college access supports to economically disadvantaged and English language learning students. Selected students may attend college tours, Dalton State’s Probe fair, and targeted college nights at the high school.
- Newton Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Newton County School and other local community stakeholders, will offer SAT preparation and college visits to underrepresented students interested in advanced degrees in STEM fields, in alignment with UGA’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
- Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is focusing on improving post-secondary preparation and access for youth in Lowndes County’s foster care system through mentoring and events linked to college and career opportunities, in partnership with VSU’s STEAM Center, Enay Coaching, Georgia Sherriff’s Boys Ranch, and Raintree Village Children’s Home.
For more information about the College Access Grant, please contact Merrill Kemp-Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org.