February 23, 2021
The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has selected three local chambers of commerce as winners of the Spring 2021 College Access Grant. These $3,000 mini-grants to local chambers of commerce are granted to increase post-secondary (certification, 2-year/4-year colleges) 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 trends in the workforce have made it abundantly clear that career success today and tomorrow will require employees to have at least a 2-year degree or a post-secondary credential,” said Dr. Dana Rickman, president of the Georgia Partnership. “That’s why we take such pride in partnering with local chambers through these mini-grants to ensure students across the state have access to post-secondary opportunities. Chamber leaders know the need and are best positioned to meet it.” Stephani Womack, Director of Education Partnership at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Chamber, echoed this sentiment. “We know our Dalton State students need support related to financial literacy. Being granted this funding means that we can provide 500 at-risk students with financial literacy courses and help connect them to local community members that will mentor them through their college career. We are so grateful to the Georgia Partnership to be selected!”
Spring 2021 College Access Grant Winners
- Believe Greater Dalton with the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Dalton State College will focus on offering financial literacy supports to students who identify financial concerns as significant to their ability to remain in college. Empowering students to make strong, informed decisions that allow them to remain in college when navigating the challenges of tight finances, student loan debt, and the conflicting priorities of employment and study can support their post-secondary success. Programming will focus on budgeting, preparing for a financial emergency, and assessing job offers and benefits.
- The Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Douglas County School System and the University of West Georgia will offer a virtual College Kick-off event to target the navigation of the higher education system and create a Safety Net Fund that will provide Douglas County School System seniors and graduates with mini-grants to cover small expenses that are a barrier to enrolling in college in Fall 2021. The Partnership’s College Access Mini-grant will provide funding for the event and seed money for the safety net fund.
- The Early County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Early County High School and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College has identified high need communities by analyzing local census tracts and considering poverty, racial demographics, transportation challenges, and internet access. They have partnered with educational leaders to plan a series of informational sessions targeting the highest needs areas of the county to deliver information on post-secondary opportunities. Food, transportation, and translation services will be provided to increase community access, and planning is in place to create safe opportunities to share information in the COVID-19 environment.
Examples of how Spring 2020 winners used funds include:
- The Lee County Chamber, in collaboration with Lee County Family Connections, Lee County School system, and 9th Grade Campus was in the process of surveying 9th grade interests and barriers to CTAE participation in preparation for hosting Pathway Exploration events at the 9th Grade Campus, when COVID forced the school and chamber to pivot in their project plan. The minigrant instead went to purchase Chromebooks for the school specifically available for checkout by qualifying low-income students. These tools will be used to complete BRIDGE Act requirements, connecting students with career counseling and regularly scheduled advisement related to students’ plans of study.
- Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Dawson County College and Career Academy, Dawson County High School, Goodwill of Northeast Georgia planned to present the Career Café series at the Dawson County College and Career Academy. The Career Café is an opportunity for students to learn about careers and the training and education necessary to obtain those careers from individuals in their community. Students were advised to attend based on results of career interest inventories and pathway selection, until in person meetings had to be canceled due to school closure.
- Quitman-Brooks County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Brooks County Family Connections originally planned to provide college tours to local 10th and 11th graders and provided SAT support through meals/snacks, transportation, and vouchers for students in need of academic and social support to succeed at school. However, many of these plans were unfeasible when COVID surfaced, so the Brooks strategic team formed a new plan of providing low-income students with technology support like Chromebook, and scholarships for college-bound students to reduce costs that traditional financial aid packages don’t cover.
The application for the Fall 2021 College Access Grant will be available soon.
For more information about the College Access Grant, please contact Merrill Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-223-2463.