Project One Sends Scholars Back To School With Care
Charlotte non-profit extends support to scholars with inaugural care package program
One of the cornerstones of the Project One Scholarship Fund (POSF) is that first-generation college students need more than just financial aid for success in college and beyond. They need mentoring, help with time management, assistance with budgeting and emotional support.
POSF mentors help provide all those things. And this year – for the first time – POSF supporters can help fill a care package to send back to college with each of the POSF scholars.
Care packages will include some of the items many people will recall having in their own dorm rooms or college apartments – microwave popcorn, soup, granola bars and other snacks, cereal, macaroni and cheese, pens and – every student’s most beloved companion – highlighters.
“Support for each scholar is essential,” said POSF founder Neal Emmons. “We believe (and studies have shown) that money alone  is not enough to ensure success of graduating college for most first-generation college students. As a result, we strive to have a personal relationship with each scholars that provides encouragement and perspective along their college journey.”
The simple and relatively inexpensive items on this list are an easy way for people to show POSF scholars – some of whom are lacking in support systems – that Charlotteans are rooting for their success.
Care package items, including gift cards for coffee and meals, can be purchased on Amazon.com using this wish list:
http://bit.do/projectone, or by searching Wish Lists on Amazon for Project One Scholarship Fund.
Anyone with an interest in supporting a scholar from a single-parent home – and whose family income is at or below 200 percent of poverty rate – can visit the Amazon page and purchase one or more items. They’ll automatically be sent to the POSF office, where board members and volunteers will create the care packages to be distributed when POSF scholars are home for the holiday break.
Anyone who wishes to contribute items should purchase off the list before Dec. 14.
Project One Is Now Accepting Scholarship Applications Scholarships for CMS students help children of single-parent families afford college.

Project One Scholarship Fund, a Charlotte-based nonprofit dedicated to expanding college education to children from low-income, single-parent families, is accepting applications from high school seniors planning to enter college this fall. And for the first time, the application process is open to all qualified students within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Applications are being accepted from mid-January through March 15. To download a copy of the application, visit projectonescholarshipfund.org.

In years past, Project One relied on guidance counselors at Garinger, West Mecklenburg, West Charlotte, Phillip O. Berry and Olympic high schools to recommend candidates, said Neal Emmons, Project One founder and executive director. That, in effect, pre-filtered the application process.

While the previous minimum GPA for applicants has been 2.5, past scholarship recipients have had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Emmons and the board of directors decided to raise the minimum GPA to 3.0. But GPA isn’t all Emmons and team look at. “We’re looking for motivated, talented students who have the drive to succeed,” he said. “We’re also seeking students with leadership qualities. We can gauge that by their involvement – whether in sports, community service, student government and/or work.”

Applications are reviewed by a panel of board members, donors and other supporters. Due to the expanding application pool this year, Emmons said they will narrow the field to about 12 finalists for the final review process. His 2016 goal: Award five new four-year scholarships.

The cost of attending a four-year N.C. public university – including tuition, room, board and books – averages about $20,000 a year. That’s out of reach for many. Project One scholars help fund their educations through summer jobs, and most work during the school year, as well.

Emmons’ interest in helping at-risk students stems from a personal place: “Having been raised by a single mother – and because my life was profoundly changed through the kindness of others – I left a long career in investments to pursue my dream of helping change the lives of other children from single-parent families.”

Project One offers scholarships to students who are Mecklenburg County residents planning to attend a N.C. state-supported college or university and have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher. Recipients must demonstrate initiative and have a family whose income is at or below 200 percent of poverty rate. The student is required to apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Project One Scholarship Fund Needs Mentors

Project One Scholarship Fund, a Charlotte-based nonprofit dedicated to expanding college education to students of low-income, single-parent families, is helping 13 scholars go to college this fall, with two on track to graduate in 2016.

Project One offers scholarships to Mecklenburg County students who:

• Are planning to attend a N.C. state-supported college/university

• Have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher 

• Demonstrate initiative

• Are from a family in which the household income is at or below 200 percent of poverty rate

• Scholarship recipients are required to apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

POSF founder Neal Emmons’ interest in helping at-risk students comes from a deeply personal place. “Having been raised by a single mother – and because my life was profoundly changed through the kindness of others – I left a career in investments to pursue my dream of helping change the lives of other children from single-parent families,” he says.

In addition to providing financial support, POSF pairs each scholar with a professional mentor who commits to helping a student discover and hone attributes as their journey out of poverty. 

Some POSF mentors know first hand the power of the mentoring dynamic, and are thankful for the opportunity to pay that forward. “I have been a mentee as both a student and professional,” says Dr. Eduardo Haynes, POSF board chair. “The impact is unspeakable because my mentors have given me nuggets of wisdom that will never leave me.“

POSF mentors must meet the following criteria:

• Employed professional

• At least 25 years old

• Willing to commit a minimum of one hour a month to check in by phone/in person with your scholar

“I have been able to grow with my current mentee and consider a different perspective when it comes to making decisions,” Haynes says. “I was surprised by how quickly my mentee and I developed a connection. He has requested that I be his mentor until he graduates.”

Interested in becoming a Project One Scholarship Fund mentor? Email neal@projectonescholarshipfund.org