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Bulloch Names 2015 REACH Georgia Scholars
Posted 10/2/15

Bulloch County Schools (BCS) honored five new REACH Georgia Scholars at a signing ceremony September 10, at the Board of Education (BOE)’s central office. Chosen from 57 eligible, eighth-grade applicants, the students, and their families, were recognized by Superintendent Charles Wilson and members of the BOE and the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education (Foundation). REACH Georgia, Move on When Ready and the HOPE Scholarship are programs the school system connects its students and parents to in order to help remove financial barriers to college for its students.


REACH Georgia is a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program 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.  Bulloch County is one of five school systems that the state initially selected to pilot the program in 2013. The Georgia Student Finance Corporation (GSFC) holds the scholarships for scholars until they graduate from high school. GSFC Board of Commissioners Member Roy C. Kilpatrick of Statesboro was in attendance at the ceremony.


Each scholar now has up to $20,000 available to them to attend college. This $100,000 investment is made possible by REACH Georgia, the Foundation, and local post-secondary partners, like Georgia Southern University, East Georgia College and Ogeechee Technical College, who have agreed to double-match each of the original $10,000 scholarships.


This year’s scholars are the following: Conley Roberson of William James Middle School; Chris Angel, Taylor Cone and Jadon Jones of Langston Chapel Middle School; and Jean Delfin-Uscanga of Portal Middle School. “This is a wonderful experience,” said Chris Angel.  “It feels like I can do anything now with my future.”  Angel’s mother, Guillermina Mendez echoed her son’s excitement, “I’m very proud of my son.  It is sight of a better future, full of hope for my son.”

Each of the scholars’ parents was in attendance to pledge their support for the program and encourage their children to keep a college education in focus. “This scholarship is the difference between college acceptance and becoming a college graduate for us,” said Alicia Pierce-Jones, mother of Jadon Jones. “Jadon’s future just got a whole lot brighter thanks to the REACH Scholarship.”


Opening doors for Georgia youth, who may not have the opportunity to seek post-secondary education due to financial constraints, is primarily why Governor Nathan Deal began the program three years ago. “This program is a strategic investment in our students and our state,” said Governor Deal in a statement released by REACH Georgia.


“It doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you’re going,” said Taylor Cone.  I plan to use that quote throughout my life.”  Cone, who has her sights set on the medical field and becoming a doctor, receives encouragement from her parents.  “We are so proud of Taylor for all of the hard work and dedication that she puts into her education.  We’ve told her to always follow your hear and never give up on your dreams.”


To be eligible to apply for REACH Georgia, 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.


Bulloch County Schools notifies eligible students and their parents and asks them to apply. A local committee of community leaders and educators review the applications and select 10 finalists. The committee then conducts face-to-face interviews with the finalists, and selects five winners.


Bulloch County Schools now has 15 REACH Georgia scholars. Each one receives mentoring and coaching through middle and high school, as well as opportunities to participate in various programs that will assist them in college selection and admission. The school system’s 2013 and 2014 scholars are now freshmen and sophomores in high school.  Each continues to fully meet the program’s requirements.


As a pilot school system, BCS was originally awarded a total of ten $10,000 scholarships by the state, five for 2013 and five for 2014. Participating school systems must identify local corporate sponsors to continue the program. This year the Foundation donated $7,500 ($1,500 per student) to help fund the $10,000 base scholarships.  More than 63 colleges and universities in Georgia have agreed to double-match and some triple-match these scholarships. All funds raised (100 percent) for REACH Georgia locally will go to future recipients. 

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Pictured Top:  2015 REACH Scholars (L-R) Jadon Jones, Jean Delfin-Uscanga, Taylor Cone, Chris Angel, and Conley Roberson with (L-R) Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson, Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education Treasurer Billy Yawn, and Georgia School Finance Commission Board Member Roy C. Kilpatrick.


Pictured Bottom:  2015 REACH scholars and their parents.