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Bulloch County Schools: 2022 REACH Georgia Scholars Signing Ceremony

The new ​Cohort of REACH Georgia Scholars with their parents and Keith Wilkey, the director of School Social Work who administers the program, and Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson.​ The scholars (left to right) are ​Alexis Morton, Amelia Sander, Carmen Tillman, Ava Rooker, and Gabriella Lopez.

Bulloch County Schools and the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education last month hosted a signing ceremony for the 2022 Cohort of REACH Georgia scholars. The five eighth-grade students, most of whom will be future first-generation college students, were honored with their parents.

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These students, who will graduate from high school in 2026, are now part of a group of 47 local scholars who benefit from the program. Each will receive a base $10,000 scholarship. The needs-based college scholarship program is designed to ensure that the state’s academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school and complete college.

This year’s scholars are the following: Gabriella Lopez of William James Middle School, Alexis Morton and Amelia Sander of Southeast Bulloch Middle School, Ava Rooker of Langston Chapel Middle School, and Carmen Tillman of Portal Middle High School. Each scholar and their parents have signed their commitment to the state program’s stringent academic, attendance and behavior requirements.

Each November the school district names five additional REACH Scholars to the program. This culminates a multi-month process of identifying hundreds of eligible students, contacting the students and their families, reviewing submitted applications, conducting interviews with finalists, selecting scholars and matching them with mentors and graduation coaches.

To  be eligible students must meet the following requirements: (1) be currently be in the eighth grade at a participating, eligible Georgia middle school; (2) demonstrate financial need; (3) have legal status in the U.S. (U.S. citizen or legal resident); (4) have and agree to maintain above average attendance and behavior; (5) have grade reports reflecting minimum grades of 75 or better in each core course (2.5 GPA); (6) have and agree to maintain a crime-free and drug-free record; and (7) have the support of a parent, legal guardian, or other committed adult.

The Georgia Student Finance Corporation holds the initial $10,000 scholarships for scholars until they graduate from high school. More than 63 colleges and universities in Georgia have agreed to double-match and some triple-match these scholarships, so graduates may receive $20,000 to $30,000 in scholarship funds depending upon where they decide to go to college in Georgia. These funds are over and above any HOPE Scholarship or other private scholarships the graduates may receive.

Since 2013 Bulloch County’s scholars have a combined total of $470,000 invested in their post-secondary education. This doubles to a combined total of $940,000 if they each attend one of partnering colleges or universities.

Bulloch County was one of five school systems that the state initially selected to pilot the program in 2013. As a pilot school system, Bulloch County Schools was originally awarded a total of ten $10,000 scholarships by the state then had to identify a local corporate sponsor to continue the program. The Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education is currently the sole sponsor that keeps this program active in our community.

The Foundation annually donates $7,500 ($1,500 per student) to help fund the required seed capital for the $10,000 base scholarships. The community can help in this effort by contributing to the Foundation, supporting its fundraisers, like the Statesboro 5K Turkey Trot, or by becoming a corporate sponsor of the program.  Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible.

To learn more about the REACH Georgia Scholarship program in Bulloch County visit the school district’s website.

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