published Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Program sends 175 to Cleveland State Community College

TO LEARN MORE

For more information about bradleyAchieves and the Oct. 12 deadline, call Jason Sewell, director of enrollment services at Cleveland State Community College, at 423-472-7141, ext. 744, or visit www.tnachieves.org.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A scholarship program unveiled last year has placed 175 Bradley County students into classes this fall at Cleveland State Community College.

The nonprofit program, called bradleyAchieves, was launched in August 2011 by Allan Jones, CEO and founder of Check Into Cash Inc., in cooperation with the college. It is part of the statewide tnAchieves program, which seeks to improve students' higher education opportunities through scholarships, mentorships with local professionals and pairing participants for community service.

"I really like the program so far," said Emma Curtis, a 2012 Cleveland High School graduate attending Cleveland State in preparation for veterinary medicine studies. "It's tough, but it has me on track to have all my requirements out of the way by the time I'm ready to go to a university in two years."

The program, Curtis said, requires a minimum of 12 college credit hours each semester plus another eight hours devoted to community service. In her case, she is continuing a working relationship with Taylor Animal Hospital.

"The program is a good opportunity for students to get a college education without some of the financial worries sometimes associated with it," said Michael Stokes, vice president of student services at Cleveland State.

The initial group of 175 scholarship participants is larger than expected, according to Stokes.

"We accomplished our goal of giving every student in Bradley County the chance to attend college without worrying about the cost," Jones said in a news release. "We want students to know that this opportunity is now available again so as many of them can benefit as possible."

The program offers funding for costs that are unmet by any grants already awarded to qualifying students, school officials said.

It assigns volunteer mentors from among local professionals and organizations. Mentor support includes encouraging and helping students to engage their educational and professional pursuits with practical matters such as college admission and financial aid paperwork.

Although individual student needs and qualifications varied, the program funded each scholarship student at an average of $525. The first year likely will have funding totals of about $200,000, Stokes said.

The 2013 graduating classes from all three Bradley County high schools -- Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley -- may participate in bradleyAchieves' second year, program officials said. However, seniors must apply before an Oct. 12 deadline.

Jones said he would like to see bradleyAchieves' enrollment double this year.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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