Wittenberg University recently joined several other Ohio colleges and universities in partnering with the Montgomery County Ohio College Promise program.
The program, created in 2010, seeks to identify, select, and support 500 Montgomery County, poverty-impacted, eighth-grade students, over a 10-year period, who have shown academic promise so that the dream of attending and graduating from college becomes a reality.
“The program supports the college endeavors of academically successful, low socio-economic students living in the urban areas of Dayton,” said Doug Schantz, director of student financial services. “They work with these high-achieving students from eighth grade through high school to equip them with the necessary tools to be successful as they move on to college. Many are first-generation minority students, and based upon a review of the academic characteristics of the most recent cohort, these students would fall into the top tiers of our academic ranking scale. Given the preparation that these students will have received in the five years prior to coming to our campus, these first-generation minority students will have a high probability of succeeding at Wittenberg.”
Students in the program are identified and selected during their eighth-grade year. Each student is supported during high school by a caring adult mentor who meets with each of them on a weekly basis at their high school and through programming offered by the College Promise Program.
“Mentoring is the cornerstone of our program. We match each student with a caring adult mentor who meets with the student once a week at the high school throughout the school year,” said Patrick Gill, executive director of the Montgomery County Ohio College Promise. “These meetings serve as an opportunity for the student to share, receive guidance, and develop a relationship with somebody beyond a family member or school official. We expect that as a result of this relationship, the student will develop academically, socially, and personally. With the mentor’s ongoing support, the student has a great chance of excelling in high school and ultimately graduating from college.”
College Promise scholars sign a contract that pledges they will be alcohol, tobacco, and drug free; be crime free; practice good citizenship; maintain a strong record of school attendance; achieve the required grade point average; participate in school, community, or faith-based activities; and attend weekly meetings with their mentor.
A total of 395 students, ranging from freshmen in high school to seniors in college, have already been impacted by the College Promise program. To date, 143 students have attended a partner college or university following high school graduation.
“The partnership is one of the ways that Wittenberg seeks to expand our reach and provide access to a diverse group of students through many different means,” said Andre Carpenter, assistant director of admission for multicultural recruitment. “With College Promise, we basically are able to position ourselves in front of a group of students who may not otherwise know about us or even have the means to attend. Now we have a way to provide access to our great liberal arts education for students who may typically be of a lower socio-economic status, as well as possibly from various multiethnic backgrounds. We want to continue to partner with programs like this and other schools that will bring more students of color as well as different multicultural backgrounds in order to make our student body and our university better reflect the community we live in and society as a whole.”
By breaking the cycle of poverty, the College Promise program has a profound impact on not only the students’ quality of life but also the greater community. By attaining a college education at a regional college or university, College Promise students will be attractive for local employers.
Before Montgomery County Ohio College Promise was launched, a fundraising goal of 6.2 million dollars was set and in 2010, this goal was met by individual donors and organizations within the community. To date, 136 donors have contributed to the success of the program. A $15,000 donation will sponsor a student to participate. College Promise is a fund of the Dayton Foundation and follows best practices in terms of gift-giving.
The selected students, upon the successful completion of high school and meeting the entrance requirements of the partner college or university, are awarded scholarships that allow them to attend college at little or no cost to them or their families.
Students eligible to participate in the Montgomery County College Promise Scholarship program must demonstrate financial need, be currently enrolled as an eighth grader in Montgomery County, and plan to attend a participating Montgomery County high school. Students selected have attended school regularly, have earned satisfactory grades, are involved in activities, and are committed to doing their best. For more information on the program, go to https://mcocp.org.