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January 27, 2020
The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, with support from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce through its Smart Decisions Coalition, has selected four local chambers of commerce as winners of the Spring 2020 College Access Grant. These $3,000 mini-grants to local chambers of commerce are granted to increase post-secondary enrollment, attendance, and completion through programs designed to target students least likely to pursue higher education (low-income, under-represented, first-generation college goers, etc.).
“The research is pretty clear. Success in the workforce of today and tomorrow will require employees to have at least a 2-year degree or a post-secondary credential,” said Dr. Steve Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership. “That’s why we’re always excited to award our mini-grants to local chambers committed to increasing post-secondary opportunities for students in their communities. They know the need and are best positioned to meet it.” Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber, echoed Dolinger’s sentiment, stating that “Every community is unique, making local solutions invaluable as we seek to reduce barriers to enrollment and completion in our state. The Georgia Chamber is proud to support these communities as they implement innovative programs tailored to the needs of their employers and students to increase opportunity and prosperity.” Fall 2019 College Access Grant Winners
- The Lee County Chamber, in collaboration with Lee County Family Connections, Lee County School system, and 9th Grade Campus will provide a CTAE Pathway Exploration Night for all current 9th graders and their parents. This program was carefully built in response to surveys done with high school students, gauging their interest and barriers to participation.
- Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Dawson County College and Career Academy, Dawson County High School, Goodwill of Northeast Georgia, WorkSource Georgia Mountains, and Lanier Technical College will collaborate to create a Graduate Pathways for Success (GPS) Program. GPS will consist of a two-week program featuring leadership and employability skill-building, financial literacy training, as well as the completion of an OSHA 10-hour, Introduction to Technical Skills, and Forklift Safety. This program will target Dawson County High School students who have not applied to college or technical school by January of 2020 and are thus at risk of becoming un-employed or under-employed after graduation.
- Quitman-Brooks County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Brooks County Family Connections, will offer two approaches to support college access in Brooks County. First, they
will be providing college tours to local 10th and 11th graders, who will visit both Wiregrass Technical College and Valdosta State University. Students will receive information about the schools’ various programs, including Dual Enrollment opportunities. Secondly, the chamber will provide SAT support through meals/snacks, transportation, and vouchers for students in need of academic and social support to succeed at school.
- Gordon County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Calhoun City Schools, has developed a comprehensive program of support for students at highest risk of not going pursuing post-secondary opportunities. They will host a Senior Career Fair, exposing students to local college and career opportunities, as well as a FAFSA Night, inviting students and parents including Spanish speakers to fill out the federal financial aid form with the support of experienced professionals. Seniors who have not taken the ACT or SAT will be targeted to participate on a College and Career Tour at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Finally, all 9th-11th graders will be invited on tours of University System institutions in the region.
Examples of how Fall 2019 grant winners used funds include:
- Athens Area County Chamber of Commerce offered ACT/ SAT test prep courses to low-income and under-represented students to support them in pursuing post-secondary education and promote a local college-going culture
- Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce created a new pathway in partnership with the high school and technical college that allows students to pursue certification meeting specific local industry needs.
- Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce supported work of the Education Partnership of Believe Greater Dalton by addressing specific issues they have identified as barriers to higher education in their community. Interventions include college tours, testing scholarships, parent and education efforts.
- McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce hosted Educate McIntosh, an event sharing the resources available to students and parents in McIntosh County, focusing on college/ post-secondary and adult education supports, as well as other resources.
- Pickens County Chamber of Commerce launched the Pickens County Workforce Pipeline Initiative, a comprehensive community-based college awareness plan that includes career fairs, a college tour, and a “How to Pay for College” FASFA night for local students and parents
- Terrell County Chamber of Commerce supported an intensive training camp that culminates in industry certification for high school seniors, culminating in a job fair for participants and the wider community.
“Through the mini-grant award, we were able to take students on a college tour, help them navigate the FAFSA, and offer a career fair showcasing local opportunities,” said Amberle Godfrey, President/CEO of the Pickens County Chamber. “Grants such as these help students and parents alike understand and prepare for the post-secondary educational experience.”
The application for the Fall 2020 College Access Grant will be available soon.
For more information about the College Access Grant, please contact Merrill Wilcox at mwilcox(at)gpee.org or 404-223-2463.