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BCPS students encouraged to apply for $1.5 million in college scholarships

Andrea Blackstone | 1/1/2016, 6 a.m.
Since 1988, the Baltimore-based nonprofit CollegeBound Foundation has helped tens of thousands of low-income Baltimore City Public School (BCPS) students ...
CollegeBound alumnus, board member and partner at Gordon Feinblatt Law Firm, Alicia L. Wilson (far right) with guests at the 2015 CollegeBound Scholars’ Luncheon hosted by the Hilton Baltimore. BCPS high school seniors planning to enroll in college are encouraged to visit: www.collegeboundfoundation.org to apply for 2016 scholarships and grants available until March 1, 2016. (Courtesy Photo/CollegeBound Foundation)

Since 1988, the Baltimore-based nonprofit CollegeBound Foundation has helped tens of thousands of low-income Baltimore City Public School (BCPS) students realize their dreams of attending college by offering college advising services and administering an annual scholarship and grant portfolio.

CollegeBound’s scholarship portfolio value exceeds $1.5 million. BCPS high school seniors who plan to enroll in college are encouraged to visit CollegeBound’s web-based portal via www.collegeboundfoundation.org to apply for 2016 scholarships and grants until March 1, 2016.

“The majority of the scholarships are for graduating high school seniors each year. We do have many of them that are renewable, and we do have a couple of scholarships that are one-time awards. The GPA and test scores requirements vary by scholarship. Some of the merit scholarships generally have a 3.0 requirement. We do have some need-based scholarships and grants,” Jimmy Tadlock, program director at CollegeBound said.

In addition to $1.5 million of merit scholarships, $400,000 worth of need-based Last Dollar Grants are potentially available for graduating high school seniors in Baltimore and college students who renew these grants. Cassie Motz, executive director of CollegeBound, explained that Last Dollar Grants are gap funding. These grants bridge the gap between what a financial aid package offers and what a family can afford for a student to attend college. The gift money does not have to be repaid.

Thirty-three year old attorney, Alicia L. Wilson is a College Bound success story. While attending Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School (Mervo) in Baltimore in the ninth grade, a teacher named Mr. Pryor felt that she would be a prime CollegeBound candidate and pointed her in the direction of the center located in her school.

Wilson connected with a College Access Program Specialist (CAPS) and participated in the CollegeBound program for four years. She went on college tours; received college admission fee waivers; SAT preparation; coaching; and other support opportunities as part of the program.

Wilson dreamed of going to college while growing up in East Baltimore long before finding out about CollegeBound. She imagined becoming a secretary or being part of an administrative support team.

According to Wilson, CollegeBound was instrumental in her ability to receive a full scholarship to University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) for her undergraduate studies. The alumna now sits on CollegeBound’s board of directors. Wilson is also a partner at a Baltimore-based law firm, Gordon Feinblatt, LLC.

“CollegeBound helped me not to have to defer my dream,” Wilson said. “I feel extremely honored and privileged to have folks believe in this program and invest in this program to change the trajectory of my life.”

Like Wilson, the majority of BCPS scholarship applicants have access to CAPS working in 17 Baltimore City Public Schools on a full-times basis including: Achievement Academy @ Harbor City; Baltimore Polytechnic; Carver Vo-Tech; Coppin Academy; Digital Harbor; Excel Academy at Francis M. Woods; Forest Park; Heritage; Maritime; Mervo; National Academy Foundation; Northwestern; Paul Laurence Dunbar; Reginald F. Lewis; Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy; W.E.B. Dubois and Western.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, of 2,019 high school seniors who received help from CollegeBound and CAPS, 1,535 students were accepted to a two-year or four-year college or university.

Motz noted that the Baltimore Ravens; Legg Mason; Travelers Insurance Company; and Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan are among corporations, foundations and individuals that generously donate to CollegeBound.

In the 1980s, the consensus among business and community leaders was that BCPS students should have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

“I think people see education as a way to improve circumstances. It’s a way to improve the community and I think that people have largely across the community have bought into that mission over time,” Motz said.

To obtain more information about CollegeBound, to apply for scholarships or Last Dollar Grants, visit: www.collegeboundfoundation.org. Specific questions can be answered by calling 410-783-2905.