When The Greenwood Promise, a non-profit place-based last-dollar scholarship program for Greenwood County students, kicked off its campaign to raise funds for phase two, Lander University stepped up to the plate as an important community partner.
While Phase One of The Promise provides tuition assistance for high school graduates to obtain a certificate, diploma, or associate degree from Piedmont Technical College, Phase Two will provide tuition assistance for students for their junior and senior years to complete a four-year degree at Lander University. If a student's desired program isn't offered at Piedmont Tech or at Lander, the student can choose to attend an alternative two-year or four-year institution, respectively. Once Phase Two funding begins, The Promise will work with various industries and businesses in Greenwood County to determine the degree programs to fund that will result in employment in an area of need and will support more students as more funding is secured. As part of the kickoff, Lander University President Richard Cosentino announced that Lander has committed $100,000 per year toward scholarships for Promise students at the University.
"The Greenwood Promise is a valued community partner of Lander University," said Dr. Richard Cosentino, president of Lander University. "We share a common mission to educate students in efforts to create a strong and able workforce through high-quality post-secondary education. We are proud of the work The Promise is doing in that regard and are thrilled that The Promise is moving into Phase Two."
Additionally, Lander has offered the use of meeting space on campus when Greenwood Promise officials are meeting with scholarship recipients as they transfer to Lander. The University will also supply The Promise with a point-of-contact that will work with the organization on tracking student admissions, transfers, and graduates of Lander. This contact may also assist with reporting on job placement of Lander graduates in a potential workforce/internship program encouraging students to "stay local" after graduation-an effort to increase the pool of qualified, educated labor in specific career fields for Greenwood County businesses.
Since its inception in 2017, The Promise has awarded 358 scholarships to Greenwood County students. Also speaking at the kickoff of phase two was State Superintendent of Education Molly Mitchell Spearman, a Lander alumna, who spoke to the positive impact The Promise is already making in Greenwood County. In her remarks, Spearman noted that Greenwood County was eight points behind the state average for the number of high school graduates entering higher education prior to the launch of The Promise. Since that time, Greenwood County is now five points above that same average. The expectations are high for The Promise to see the same results as seen with Phase One at Piedmont Technical College. The opportunities are endless for Greenwood County students to also participate in apprenticeships, internships, and then transition directly into the county's workforce post-commencement.
"The Greenwood Promise is excited for our partnership with Lander University as we launch the public phase of our Campaign," said Katie Davenport, Executive Director of The Greenwood Promise. "Greenwood County is so fortunate to have two outstanding higher ed institutions in our community, both lead by Presidents and faculty that support education for our students. Dr. Cosentino's announcement of Lander's pledge to The Promise solidified their commitment to provide our students with a tuition-free pathway, not only removing their financial concerns, but also creating life changing opportunities for our students who thought a bachelor's degree was not part of their future. The Greenwood Promise is proud to be a partner with Lander University and is grateful that our Greenwood County students are part of a community that believe in education and who exhibit the ultimate level of leadership by nourishing the growth and success of others. We look forward to all our students taking advantage of the unique opportunities that they can find only here in Greenwood, SC."