“All of the REACH mentors have made important contributions to students’ development through their faithful service. Because of them, college is a reality for 12 students who otherwise may have never thought it possible.”

Dr. Aronica Gloster — REACH Coordinator for Richmond County Schools, Augusta, Ga.

Launched in 2012, Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) had one goal–help 250,000 more Georgia students graduate from college and be workforce ready by 2020. Georgia Power Foundation, Inc. is proud to support REACH. The academic and community support it provides to promising students who strive to be the first in their family to attain a post-secondary degree is invaluable.

As part of the program, middle school and high school students sign a contract vowing to maintain good behavior, keep a cumulative grade-point average above 2.5, meet with their REACH mentor at least twice a month, and focus on achieving not only their high school diploma, but also a college degree.

The 2015-16 school year was the inaugural year of Richmond County’s participation in REACH and, thanks to funding provided by the state and businesses like Georgia Power, the school system was able to enroll 12 scholars in the REACH program. According to Dr. Aronica Gloster, Richmond County has a total of 18 scholars for the 2016-2017 school year – an uptick she attributes to the support of volunteers like Jack Dogan with Georgia Power.

“Mentors provide encouragement and guidance to students, often becoming champions of their mentees,” said REACH Georgia’s vice president, Brad Bryant. “REACH seeks to engage employees like those at Georgia Power who have high work standards and good values to serve as mentors.”

The program’s first 17 participating students are set to graduate from high school in May 2017 from four school systems across the state. Each graduate will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

“Georgia Power is an amazing partner and has been there along the journey,” said Bryant. “While we advertise ourselves at REACH as an education/scholarship program, there is heavy focus on workforce capacity building, inclusive economic development, and youth development.”

At the end of 2016, 685 students in 69 school districts are participating statewide with more to be added in 2017. By 2020, the program aims to offer mentoring in all 180 school systems and to enroll at least 2,800 scholars. Public, statewide, corporate and philanthropic support is needed to sustain the program. Georgia Power’s support at the statewide level, and where it is able within the local communities, help drive a needed sustainability to?achieve that goal.