External Affairs Division

Early College Program Gets Scholarship Boost

Atlanta — April 30, 2014

Georgia students enrolled in the state’s “Early College Program” will benefit from a $25,000 anonymous donation that will create a scholarship fund. Recipients can use funds to attend any of the University System of Georgia’s 31 colleges and universities.

The USG Foundation will administer the new scholarship effort. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has selected a cohort of students to receive these scholarships. The value of each scholarship will be based upon the number of students who will receive a scholarship. The donor has stipulated that a small portion of the money remain as seed funding for the newly established Early College Scholarship Fund.

USG Foundation Executive Director Candace Sommer said, “This gift aligns perfectly with the mission of the USG Foundation to support public higher education across the state; to support students attending all USG colleges and universities; especially those facing financial barriers.”

Early Colleges are small schools that target low-income, first generation and minority students where they can earn not only a high school diploma but also an associate’s degree or college credits transferable to a bachelor’s degree.

Sommer said that while many of these students are prepared for full-time college, they often lack the funds to continue their education and are forced to abandon their college aspirations. “Need-based scholarships are in demand in Georgia,” Sommer said. “That is why the USG Foundation has set securing need-based scholarship funding as its number one priority. The trustees feel strongly that no one should be denied a college education because they can’t afford to attend.”

The donor said, “Our public education system is a blessing to many, but for some students it does not leave them adequately prepared for college. The Early College Initiative strives to provide students with a head start on their collegiate degrees. I am proud to partner with the USG Foundation by establishing a scholarship for Georgia’s Early College students.”

The Georgia Early College Initiative was developed by the USG and the Georgia Department of Education to address the low high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates of low income and first generation students.

The program began in 2005 with seed funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Woodruff Foundations. The USG and the Federal College Access Challenge Grant provided additional funding support.

Today there are 10 Early Colleges across the state of Georgia. Participating USG institutions are: Albany State University, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Columbus State University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia State University, Savannah State University, and Valdosta State University.

The effectiveness of the program can be seen in the success rate of the students. In 2012, 93 percent of these students graduated from high school with college credits and 90 percent went on to enroll in college.

On April 21, 2014, Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) K-12 School Accountability results provided a clear demonstration of the high academic performance of Early College students. DeKalb Early College Academy (partnering with Georgia Perimeter College) in the DeKalb County Schools was the highest scoring high school in the state of Georgia with a score of 99.3.

For information on the Early College Scholarship Fund, contact Executive Director Candace Sommer at 404-962-3057 or

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