Goizueta Foundation grant to aid Hispanic/Latino students at BPC

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

MOUNT VERNON -- Brewton-Parker College, with a long history of providing a supportive environment for first-generation college students, hopes to extend educational opportunities to a continually growing population of area Hispanic/Latino families through a grant from the Atlanta-based Goizueta Foundation.

The Goizueta Foundation recently awarded Brewton-Parker a $500,000 grant to fund a program that, while targeted for the recruitment of Hispanic/Latino students in area counties surrounding Brewton-Parker's main campus in Mount Vernon, is available to any such student whose family resides in the United States.

"It is our sincere belief that this positive response to our proposal to The Goizueta Foundation will greatly enhance the opportunity for Hispanic/Latino students to secure a college education," said Dr. David Smith, president of Brewton-Parker. "These ever-increasing numbers of potential students are mostly from low-income families and are in desperate need of financial assistance that will enable them to stay in school until they receive their bachelor degrees."

These counties, listed with 2000 U.S. Census information regarding percentage of Hispanics/Latinos, are: Candler, 9.2 percent; Toombs, 8.9 percent; Tattnall, 8.4 percent; Jeff Davis, 5.1 percent; Montgomery, 3.9 percent; Wheeler, 3.5 percent; and Treutlen, 1.2 percent. The Hispanic/Latino population total in the seven counties is indicated in the census as 6,000 to 7,000.

The college's three most proximate school districts - in Montgomery County, Toombs County and Vidalia City Schools - project a cumulative 20 to 25 Hispanic/Latino graduates in each of the next four years.

"The Goizueta Foundation is enabling Brewton-Parker College to continue providing much needed scholarship assistance to Hispanic/Latino students into perpetuity through their endowment," Smith said. "Furthermore, while the endowment earns its initial scholarship funds, the foundation has provided funds for immediate assistant to these talented and underrepresented students. We are indeed grateful."

The Goizueta Foundation grant is designated to support a comprehensive Hispanic/Latino recruitment initiative through the means of using:

$375,000 to establish and endow The Goizueta Foundation Scholars Fund to provide need-based scholarship assistance annually for Hispanic/Latino students whose families reside in the United States;

$75,000 to support the salary of a bilingual admissions counselor for three years; and

$50,000 to provide immediate need-based scholarship assistance over three years to Hispanic/Latino students whose families reside in the United States.

The program looks to secure a 40 percent increase in Hispanic/Latino student enrollment within three years and a 55 percent retention rate among Hispanic/Latino students.

"The employment and strategic utilization of a bilingual admissions counselor would enable the college to enhance its recruitment efforts within the growing Hispanic/Latino population," said Dr. John Waters, vice president for enrollment services at Brewton-Parker. "As Hispanic/Latino students consider their choice for higher education, this bilingual recruitment professional will be able to minimize language and cultural barriers, relate uniquely to prospective student families and communicate the college's interest in diversity and cultural awareness."

The admissions office will direct the promotional efforts of the bilingual admissions counselor, who will visit high schools, attend college probe events, personally contact Hispanic/Latino students and collaborate with area high school counselors. The use of Spanish recruitment materials, campus visit programs and the admissions office's communication flow will ensure the program's success, Waters said.

Brewton-Parker also looks to commitments of the program from regional Georgia Baptist Convention leaders and area school districts as means of identifying prospective Hispanic/Latino students.

In many communities in south Georgia, Hispanic/Latino congregations worship in Baptist churches that are pastored by Hispanic missionaries employed by the GBC or its affiliate organizations. The churches are seen as an excellent opportunity for Brewton-Parker to locate and develop Hispanic/Latino prospects for the college.

Through a Community Education Partnership with Montgomery County Schools, the school district and college have developed a consortium arrangement for the development of the county's largely undereducated populace. Hispanic/Latino recruitment and bridge programs between the high school and college seek to attract Hispanic/Latino students in Brewton-Parker's home county.

The immediate need-based scholarship assistance provided by The Goizueta Foundation allows the program to provide for incoming students beginning with the fall 2004 semester. Otherwise, in accordance with the admissions office's 18-month recruiting cycle, prospective students will be targeted as high school juniors.

Scholarship information materials will be developed and funding distributed during the spring semester, during which time Hispanic/Latino students interested in attending Brewton-Parker will be identified and contacted concerning the scholarship funds.

Jay Orr, Brewton-Parker's vice president for college advancement, said the scholarship endowment will ensure that a constant pool of funding will be available for students.

"Many of these young people have a limited future, but a college degree will open doors for them career-wise that have been shut heretofore," Orr said. "Goals previously unattainable will now be readily in their grasp. These young people will become role models to other Hispanic/Latino youth giving them incentive to better their lives."

The Goizueta Foundation was established in 1992 by Roberto C. Goizueta, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Company until his death in October 1997. The foundation provides assistance to educational, cultural, religious and charitable institutions. The Goizueta Foundation's primary focus is to respond to the needs of families by assisting institutions that serve children, support families at risk and create educational opportunities.