Recently I was excited to recognize 82 young scholars from Friendship Collegiate Academy. These students have earned D.C. Achievers Scholarships, which assist D.C. students with strong academic potential from low-income families to secure the funds necessary for college.
These prestigious and competitive scholarships are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and administered by the nonprofit D.C. College Success Foundation. The scholarships provide as much as $55,000 toward the cost of college, as well as mentoring, counseling and other supports during students' senior year and throughout college.
This year, Friendship Collegiate Academy students were awarded 31 percent of all of the Achievers Scholarships in the District. This year's star students increase the total number of these scholarships offered to Collegiate students to 696 of nearly 2000 issued by the College Success Foundation in D.C. since 2007.
Over and above these success stories, four of our students' hard work was recognized with scholarships to Hanover College in Indiana this year. As D.C.
Achievers Scholars, these students are eligible for a full-tuition scholarship; grant and work-study funding valued at an estimated $100,000 annually for four years; and student and staff mentoring. This thanks to this great scholarship program run by Herb Tillery.
Additionally, one of our students increased the number of POSSE scholarships earned by our graduates to 25. This sought-after college assistance award pays full-tuition to urban youth with strong academics who show leadership skills. This student overcame great personal and family adversity, and is now headed to Sewanee University in Tennessee.
Friendship Public Charter School graduated three students whose commitment to learning and academic accomplishments have been recognized with Gates Millennium Scholarships, which pay a full-ride through undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Just last month one of our students earned the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship, which is worth more than $260,000 to attend George Washington University.
Scholarships have enabled our Collegiate Academy students – three in four of whom are eligible for federal lunch subsidies – to attend institutions of higher learning across the nation. These have included Columbia, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Morehouse, Georgetown, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Bucknell, and University of Maryland among many others.
At Friendship, we understand that being accepted to college is insufficient for students from low-income families to attend the higher education institution of their choice. Accordingly, our students have secured over $50 million in college scholarships since our first graduating class.
Collegiate Academy in D.C.'s Ward Seven graduates nearly 250 students each year. Our on-time – within four years – high-school graduation rate at 95 percent is among the highest of any open-enrollment public high school in the city, and comparable with academically-selective high schools and those located in D.C.'s affluent Ward Three. Fully 100 percent of Collegiate Academy's graduating class is accepted to college. In fact, two college acceptances is a condition of graduation.
Armed with scholarships and academic success our students are poised to earn college degrees, pursue careers, and enrich their communities regardless of their zip code.
Donald Hense is founder and CEO of Friendship Public Charter School, which operates six campuses serving K-12 students in Southeast and Northeast D.C.
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