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Walmart pitches in for college bound students

Stacy M. Brown | 8/15/2014, 6 a.m.
The testimonies about the benefits of the CollegeBound Foundation can be endless.
On Friday, August 8, 2014, Walmart and the CollegeBound Foundation hosted a back-to-school event for low-income and first-generation college students at the Walmart Store located at 2701 Port Covington Drive in Baltimore. Walmart provided the students with $250 gift cards to use toward the purchase of school supplies. (Left to right) Executive Director of CollegeBound, Cassie Motz; Director of Community Affairs for Walmart, Nina Albert; College Bound Students Micah Connor, Uzma Rimzan, Jean Reed, Michael Townes, Curtis Stubbs, Samantha Burrell and Casteel Johnson; and Wallmart Store Manager Ervin O. Curtis. Gar Roberts

— The testimonies about the benefits of the CollegeBound Foundation can be endless.

Students and even corporate sponsors like Walmart have been effusive in their praise.

“The CollegeBound program has helped me with interviewing skills and it helps the mentors and networking,” said Samantha Burrell, a student who aspires to become a judge.

“This program has helped me with networking skills to talk to individuals in the corporate world,” said Michael Townes, another student and beneficiary of the generosity of CollegeBound. Townes says the program also has helped him “make speeches on the spot.”

For more than a quarter of a century, CollegeBound has helped low-income and first-generation students realize their dreams of a college education, according to a news release.

CollegeBound works in 21 Baltimore City public high schools, providing full-time college advisors, delivering needs-based funding through their “Last Dollar Grants” program and by administering a scholarship portfolio of more than $1.5 million.

The “Last Dollar Grant” counts as a need-based award for high school graduates whose expected family contribution and financial aid package total less than the cost to attend college. CollegeBound Foundation officials said students who are awarded such a grant are eligible to receive up to $3,000 per year which is renewable for up to five years of college or the maximum amount of $15,000.

The grants do not have to be repaid and the foundation awards approximately 60 each year.

“We are aware of the CollegeBound Foundation as a result of our ongoing community efforts in Baltimore,” said Amanda Henneberg, the senior manager of communications in public affairs and government relations for Walmart, who provided CollegeBound scholars with $250 gift cards to use toward the purchase of back-to-school items.

The students were counseled by the resident director of Stevenson University on how to maximize their budget when shopping for school supplies.

Stevenson University, which has campuses in Owings Mills and Stevenson, counts as a major supporter of the CollegeBound Foundation in its efforts to provide all students with the opportunity to earn a college education. The university provides an annual $7,000 nursing grant to students attending a Baltimore City Public High School and who participate in a CollegeBound program.

“With the start of the back-to-school shopping season upon us, this seemed like a natural opportunity to build upon our community relationships and make a difference in the lives of highly dedicated students as they prepare for the upcoming academic year,” Henneberg said. “For 26 years, the CollegeBound Foundation has been assisting hard-working students achieve their dreams of pursuing a secondary education, and we’re proud to be aligned with those efforts.”

This was also an opportunity for Walmart to support a “great organization and make a meaningful contribution” to under-resourced and first-generation college students, according to Henneberg.

Located along Water Street, CollegeBound has leveraged more than $46 million in financial aid for scholars and the program has assisted approximately 53,500 students in one-on-one settings, helping them to complete college applications and to find funds to attend college since 1988.

Further, CollegeBound has awarded nearly $6 million in “Last Dollar Grants” to more than 1,850 students and 85 percent of CollegeBound-advised students have enrolled in Maryland colleges. Officials said grant recipients graduate at a rate of two and a half times the college completion rate of students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.

“We are proud to support the CollegeBound Foundation, and to send off and congratulate some of the graduates with a $250 gift card to put them in the right direction as they start their first year in college,” said Nina Albert, the director of community affairs for Walmart.

For more information about the CollegeBound Foundation or to apply for a scholarship, visit: www.collegeboundfoundation.org or call 410-783-2905.