Bulloch County Schools and the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education Honor the Tenth Cohort of REACH GA Scholars – All On Georgia | Team Cansler

Roger Claudio from Langston Chapel Middle School, Ansley Martin and Hilda Reyes from Portal Middle High School, Gabriela Mendez and Aliyah Rawls from William James Middle School and Cristina Pacheco from Southeast Bulloch Middle School. / Schools of Bulloch Co

Bulloch County Schools and the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education hosted a signing ceremony and reception for their tenth cohort of REACH Georgia Scholars on November 10th. The program now has 53 grantees with access to over $1 million in grants.

Six eighth grade students and their parents signed their commitment to the program’s rigorous academic, attendance, behavior and service standards during a signing ceremony prior to the Board of Education meeting. This year’s scholarship recipients are: Roger Claudio from Langston Chapel Middle School; Ansley Martin and Hilda Reyes of Portal Middle High School; Gabriela Mendez and Aliyah Rawls from William James Middle School; and Cristina Pacheco of Southeast Bulloch Middle School.

“Parents, thank you for your support of these fine young people,” said Headmaster Charles Wilson as he addressed the students during the ceremony. “Scholars, you have done great things to get here. I really want to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity that is presented to you. Work collaboratively with your assigned mentors, your teachers, your schools and advocates. Carry on with the things you did to bring you here and remember who you are.”

Since 2013, Bulloch County REACH Georgia Scholars have invested a total of $530,000 in their post-secondary education. This local amount doubles to a total of more than $1,060,000 if grantees choose to attend one of the state’s partner colleges or universities.

These newest scholarship recipients, who will graduate from high school in 2027, are now among a group of 53 local scholarship recipients to benefit from the program. Each receives a $10,000 undergraduate scholarship held by the Georgia Student Finance Corporation through high school. More than 63 Georgia colleges and universities have agreed to double the base scholarship and some will triple it, allowing graduates to receive scholarships ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 depending on where they choose to go to college in Georgia. These funds are in excess of any HOPE grant or other private grants they may receive.

Martin, 14, plans to attend Savannah College of Art & Design to study graphic design. “This scholarship means a lot to me and I’m very happy about it,” she said.

Mendez, 13, plans to be a social worker. “I just like helping people and being kind,” she said ahead of the ceremony. “This scholarship means a lot to me. That I get this opportunity at all is really great for me.”

Reyes, 13, wants to be a trauma surgeon. “I’ve been really inspired to help people and help them feel better,” she said. “This scholarship means so much to me. I am so honored to have this opportunity.”

13-year-old Rawls plans to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon dealing with traumatic brain injuries. “My mother is suffering from brain trauma, so I want to help those who need help,” she said. “This scholarship will help me to attend college.”

Pacheco, 13, has always been interested in visual arts, so she’s intrigued to pursue a career as an art director. She also shared how much this scholarship means to her and how it will help her attend college.

Claudio, 14, wants to be an engineer. “One career I’m thinking about is engineering technology or something in engineering,” he said. “I found out a lot of interesting things about engineering, that’s my main goal at the moment. I will be a first generation student. This scholarship will be of great help to me in my studies.”
The REACH Georgia Scholarship is a need-based college scholarship program designed to ensure that the state’s academically promising students receive the academic, social, and financial support they need to complete high school and college.

Each November, the school district nominates five to six additional REACH grantees to the program. This culminates in a multi-month process of identifying hundreds of eligible students, contacting students and their families, reviewing submitted applications, conducting interviews with finalists, selecting scholarship recipients, and matching them with mentors and graduating coaches.

To be eligible, students must meet the following requirements: (1) be currently in the eighth grade of a participating, eligible Georgia middle school; (2) demonstrate financial need; (3) have legal status in the United States (US 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 a crime and drug free record and agree to maintain it; and (7) have the support of a parent, legal guardian or other committed adult.

In May 2022, the school district’s first cohort of five REACH Georgia Scholars selected in 2013 began graduating from college, planning graduate school plans and building their careers. Amaya Brown, Kailana Low, Aisley Scarboro, Amonica Kirkland and De’Nishia Jones are the promising young women who were the first to invest this opportunity in their future. Their stories will be featured in the school district’s 2022-2023 annual report.

“When you think about our school district’s mission to prepare students for success and add value to our community, REACH is a resource we have to do just that,” said Superintendent Charles Wilson. “We are changing the future one day and one student at a time.”

Bulloch County was one of five school systems the state originally selected for the pilot program in 2013. As a pilot school system, Bulloch County Schools originally received a total of ten $10,000 grants from the state and then had to find a local corporate sponsor to continue the program. The Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education is currently the only sponsor keeping this program active in our community.

The Foundation makes annual donations of $7,500 ($1,500 per student) to fund the seed capital required for the $10,000 base scholarships. The community can help with these efforts by contributing to the foundation, supporting its fundraisers like the Statesboro 5K Turkey Trot, or 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 website here.

Bulloch County Schools

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