Commentary: New initiative ensures low-income high school graduates can attend college

Mayor Allen Joines

Commentary: New initiative ensures low-income high school graduates can attend college
November 14
10:17 2019

By Mayor Allen Joines

Under a new initiative intended to alter the cycle of poverty, students in low-income households who graduate from any high school in Forsyth County will be able to attend Forsyth Technical Community College free of charge thanks to a program funded primarily through a six-year, $870,000 grant by BB&T Corp.

Officials with The Winston-Salem Alliance, Forsyth Technical Community College, and the City of Winston-Salem announced the initiative, called the Winston-Salem College Guarantee, during a news conference today on the Forsyth Tech campus. 

The “Hope and Opportunity” scholarships available through the program will cover tuition, books and fees as well as other expenses if necessary, such as transportation, childcare and remedial education. Scholarships will be available for students who graduate at the end of the current school year and who live in households with an income of 80% or less of the average median income of the county. 

Over the life of the program, officials estimate that it will assist an estimated 2,550 students, Mayor Allen Joines said. “This program has the potential to significantly reduce poverty in our community,” said Joines. “It will enable underprivileged students to acquire two-year technical degrees in such areas as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, medical technologies, aviation maintenance and others that offer good salaries, without the crippling debt of college loans.” 

Janet N. Spriggs, the president of Forsyth Tech, called the BB&T grant an “incredible gift.” 

“This initiative will create opportunities for students to attend Forsyth Tech who might not otherwise have been able to attend,” Spriggs said. “This donation also fits our mission at Forsyth Tech of being a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities.” 

Don Flow, the chairman of the Winston-Salem Alliance, said BB&T provided the crucial funding that made the program possible. “We are very grateful to BB&T and to (Chairman and CEO) Kelly King for their remarkable investment in the future of our entire community,” Flow said. “Their leadership will prove to be a turning point in our efforts to interrupt the cycle of poverty in Winston-Salem.”

The BB&T grant will be combined with other resources, including federal Pell grants, to ensure that all students who qualify can attend Forsyth Tech.

To qualify for the program a student must:

*Be an immediate graduate of a Forsyth County high school and be between the ages of 18 to 21.

*Be a full-time student at FTCC and carry at least 12 hours of credits.

*Be from a family that has an income of 80% or less of the average median income of the county.

*Have first taken advantage of or not qualified for other means of funding college, including Pell grants or other funding sources.

*Maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.

*Participate in a remedial program if pre-testing indicates a deficiency in reading, math or other basic skills.

Additionally, participating students must agree to remain in Forsyth County for at least two years after graduation, unless they are attending a four-year college or university outside the county.

The program addresses the Alliance’s strategic initiatives of interrupting the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and of boosting education so that 65% of the adults in Forsyth County between the ages of 25 and 55 have an associate’s degree or higher.

It also complements the work by the Partnership for Prosperity, an initiative Joines announced in March to implement the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, but it is separate from those efforts.

Council Member Denise D. Adams said, “We all understand how important it is for every graduating student in Forsyth County to have an opportunity to extend their education. This collaboration will not only allow us to educate the next generation, but improve outcomes when it comes to poverty, health and quality of life.”

Ann Bennett Phillips, the chair of the Forsyth Tech Board of Trustees, said, “BB&T has a long history in the Winston-Salem community and we know this gift will have a positive impact on the future for so many.”

Details on how to apply for a Hope and Opportunity Scholarship will be announced at a later date. For more information about Forsyth Technical Community College, visit or call 336-723-0371.

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors