By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
It’s an ambitious program that aims to help hundreds of students in the Everett School District get a college education.
And it just got a big boost.
The Rotary Club of Everett received a $50,000 grant from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation for The Next Generation program, helping low-income students get to college and graduate.
The Rotary program was first announced in July. Its goal was to raise $200,000 over the next four years to help more than 900 Everett School District students attend college or receive post-secondary technical training.
The $50,000 Gates foundation grant will be matched with other local donations, such as $10,000 from the Everett Public Schools Foundation, said Ted Wenta, who leads the Rotary’s Next Generation committee.
The program now expects to increase the amount it spends over the next four years to at least $300,000, he said.
The program helps students enrolled in the school district’s AVID programs, those with a GPA of 2.0 to 3.5 and who are low-income, minorities or are the first in their family to attend college.
Rotary club members haven’t decided how the Gates grant will be spent — in one lump sum or spread over the four years of the program, Wenta said. It’s too early to know how many additional students will be helped.
The Next Generation program kicked off this fall at Everett and Sequoia high schools.
Nicholas Pena, an Everett High School junior, was among the first to benefit. The program paid $449 in tuition costs so that the school classes he was enrolled in could simultaneously earn college credit.
Overall, the program this fall has paid tuition for about 30 students to earn college credits, Wenta said.
One goal is to expand the program to North Middle School and Cascade High School, Wenta said.
In addition to helping students pay for college credits while still enrolled in high school, students will be able to visit college campuses, receive college scholarships and get help paying for summer school tuition.
Some money also may be used to provide seed money for teachers to explore new ways of teaching, Wenta said.
Rotary club members also have pledged to assist about 240 students this year through efforts such as helping judge student culminating projects, leading study groups and providing opportunities for job shadows and career mentoring.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.