Such a development is now occurring on behalf of the graduating Class of 2013 at Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley High schools.
It is called bradleyAchieves, a relatively new program that is partnering with tnAchieves to provide a scholarship and mentoring program — and most importantly, an opportunity for postsecondary education — to area students who agree to maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA, who are willing to perform a few hours of volunteer community service and who might not otherwise have the chance to go to college.
Although the innovative initiative is open to all graduating seniors, it focuses primarily on students who would become the first in their families to go to college.
In its inaugural undertaking last year, bradleyAchieves made it possible for 175 Cleveland and Bradley County students to attend college free of charge. The idea was spurred by tnAchieves, a state program, but locally it is a collaboration between Cleveland State Community College and The Allan Jones Foundation.
The education-friendly format was first announced in 2011, and the results a year later spoke for themselves as almost 200 area students applied for these unique scholarships and received the opportunity to continue their formal educations. Without this community program, most could not have pursued postsecondary academics.
The outstanding success of the first initiative, as evidenced in the 2012 numbers, is the good news.
The even better news is that bradleyAchieves is preparing for its second significant year. And its goals are even loftier, according to the Jones Foundation which believes in the value of academic collaborations that can benefit multiple partners.
Consider five notable strengths.
One, the student is the beneficiary by getting the chance to pursue a higher education at no cost; this is especially helpful to high school graduates whose families cannot afford such added expense to their limited budgets.
Two, Cleveland State Community College is the beneficiary because its student numbers are increased; in higher education, the larger the enrollment the greater the gains for the school and its student body.
Three, the Cleveland and Bradley County community benefits because each bradleyAchieves student is asked to commit to at least eight hours of volunteer service; this not only helps dozens of nonprofit organizations whose causes are vital to our residents, but it also instills a deepened community spirit in the minds and hearts of the students.
Four, area businesses and industries benefit because education better prepares and further enhances a community’s workforce; with continued hiring by a variety of growing companies in our city, county and region, a diverse workforce is a benefit to all.
Five, our hometown’s overall quality of life is favorably impacted because educational opportunity heightens all that surrounds it — lower unemployment, new jobs, higher incomes, satisfied workers who are more content in their careers, increased local investment by existing and new businesses, and the list goes about as far as we can see.
Those who wish to apply for bradleyAchieves scholarships should act now. Application deadline is Oct. 12.
Additional information is available by visiting www.tnachieves.org or by visiting the guidance office at any of the three area high schools. Questions also may be directed to Michael Stokes, CSCC vice president of Student Services, at 423-478-6211.
Education opportunity through bradleyAchieves is an investment in self and in community.
We thank Cleveland native Allan Jones and his Foundation for such a staunch belief in education and its countless attributes.