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Rome schools to participate in REACH Georgia program

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Rome City Schools was recently selected to participate in the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen, or REACH, Georgia program beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Williams said the program is a needs-based scholarship opportunity for students that rewards them for self-accountability, promotes parent involvement and provides motivation and support, which are all factors that are critical in student educational achievement.

“Rome City Schools initially got involved with REACH when the coordinators from the program contacted us last spring,” Williams said. “Our superintendent, Mr. Louis Byars, and myself met with them, and they presented the idea in front of the school board at the last called meeting.”

REACH Georgia works by first identifying in-need students during their seventh-grade year. These students must qualify for the free or reduced lunch program, have good school attendance and demonstrate academic promise.

The program especially looks for students who are future first-generation college students, as well as students who would be able to reach this potential through extra guidance and mentorship.

“Once these students are selected, the scholars are given a mentor and academic coach to encourage and guide them from their seventh-grade year all the way until they graduate high school,” Williams said. “Students will then receive $2,500 dollars per year, for up to four years, at a college within the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia or eligible private institutions.”

The REACH Program is funded by private donors, both through the local community and the REACH Program as a whole.

“The program funds our first five scholars during the first year,” she said. “After that, starting in year two, we reach out to private citizens and local businesses to help support our scholars as well.”

Money isn’t the only way to support the program.

“You can actually select and support a student that you can be directly involved in this program through a mentorship,” she said.

They’re already looking for potential donors and mentors.

“Keep your eyes and ears open for when we start communicating that we are gearing up to start the program,” Williams said. “Right now, we plan to start identifying scholars for our first year this next spring. We definitely want the community to already be helping us select those students.”