Evolve502 launches free college program for JCPS Class of 2021

Jefferson County Public School’s incoming seniors will be able to go to college for free through a scholarship program launched today by Evolve502.

The Evolve502 Scholarship will allow eligible students to begin postsecondary studies tuition-free at any Kentucky Community and Technical College school or Simmons College of Kentucky. That would allow students to pursue an associate degree or career credential, or take 60 hours of credit before transferring to a four-year university.

“Today we’re delivering the promise to the Class of 2021 – an opportunity to attend college without the burden of tuition,” said Marland Cole, Executive Director of Evolve502, during today’s announcement at Jefferson Community and Technical College. “Through this investment, we’re providing a more equitable pathway to college, career and life success for all students, especially our low-income, first generation college going and black and brown students. Today is about bringing hope and promise to our young people and this community for a better way forward.”

Details of the scholarship for the JCPS Class of 2021 include:

• The Evolve502 Scholarship is a last dollar scholarship, meaning Evolve502 will fund the difference between federal, state and institution aid and university tuition and mandatory fees, ensuring no Evolve502 scholar pays tuition.
• In addition to the scholarships, scholars whose families earn less than $40,000 annually will be eligible for opportunity grants of $1,000 per semester (maximum $2,000 annually) to assist with costs outside of tuition and mandatory fees including books, housing, transportation, etc.
• Scholarship applications will be available beginning Oct. 1 at evolve502.org/scholarship, and printed copies will be available at each JCPS high school.

“At Jefferson, we provide students with the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and open doors to a better life,” said Ty Handy, Jefferson’s president. “Jefferson is both pleased and proud to be an integral part of this program. We look forward to serving Evolve502 scholarship students for many years to come.”

In addition, Evolve502 and the University of Louisville are finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding for a 2+2 program for the JCPS Class of 2021 that will allow a portion of Evolve502 Scholars to continue their education in pursuit of bachelor’s degrees at UofL. The university will provide a last dollar scholarship to eligible Evolve502 scholars in the JCPS Class of 2021 who are opportunity grant recipients and complete an associate degree at a KCTCS school or Simmons to continue studies at UofL for two years. Scholars must also be Pell grant eligible at the time of transfer to UofL. UofL’s commitment signifies a $1.4 investment in Evolve502 Scholars.

“The University of Louisville is pleased to partner with Evolve502 on this crucial initiative that will ease access to higher education for so many worthy local students,” said UofL Provost Beth Boehm. “We realize that the path to a degree and a rewarding career is often blocked by financial obstacles. UofL’s recently completed strategic plan includes a commitment to increase degree attainment in the region and the amount of need-based financial aid to our students, and this partnership with Evolve 502 will move us toward fulfilling both goals.”

Evolve502’s goal is to increase college access support and success for students who want to attend college or get workforce training and certifications, including many of Louisville’s most vulnerable students – low-income, historically marginalized, first generation and others who have been left out or left behind.

Cost, or perceived cost of post-secondary education, is cited as one of the top barriers that prevent young people from attending college. Evolve502 gathered the best experts from around the state, utilizing national best practices, and developed a scholarship program designed around equity, access, and success.

The ultimate goal is to raise $50 million that will allow every student in the JCPS Classes of 2021-2034 to have a chance to apply for an Evolve502 scholarship. 

During Tuesday’s announcement, C.E. & S. Foundation President Carol Jones issued a challenge to the philanthropic and business communities. If Evolve502 can raise $7.5 million by Nov. 25, C.E.&S will make a $2.5 million grant towards the effort. That funding would allow Evolve502 to reach its phase 1 fundraising goal, guaranteeing that every JCPS student in high school during the 20-21 academic year (Classes of 2021-2024) would have an opportunity to receive the scholarship.  

“At the core of the C.E. and S. Foundation’s work is the belief that education opens paths to independence and prosperity. Evolve502 is a powerful plan to help our community’s children along this path,” Jones said. “This $2.5 million challenge grant is an invitation to the community to join us in supporting Evolve502’s promise to JCPS students that they will be able to afford post-secondary education or certification.”

To make a financial gift, please contact John Guthrie, Director of Development and Donor Engagement at johng@evolve502.org.  For more information about Evolve502, please visit our website at www.evolve502.org.

Evolve502 Scholarship Donors
Thanks to all who’ve contributed to the scholarship effort, the Evolve502 Scholars Foundation Board and many community members, including our Lead Donors:

• David Jones, Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler
• Henry Heuser
• Rotary Club of Louisville
• Christina Lee Brown
• Brooke Brown Barzun & Matthew Barzun
• Victoire & Owsley Brown III
• Augusta Brown Holland & Gill Holland, Jr.
• Mary and Ted Nixon
• LDG Foundation
• Greg Fischer and Alex Gerassimides
• GE Appliances
• Tim and Brenda Huval
• Rajon Rondo Foundation

Members of the Louisville Metro Council also contributed through Neighborhood Development Funds from each their districts in the current budget year, including:

• Jessica Green – Metro Council District 1
• Barbara Shanklin – Metro Council District 2
• Keisha Dorsey – Metro Council District 3
• Barbara Sexton Smith – Metro Council District 4
• Donna Purvis – Metro Council District 5
• David James – Metro Council District 6
• Paula McCraney – Metro Council District 7
• Bill Hollander – Metro Council District 9
• Pat Mulvihill – Metro Council District 10
• Marcus Winkler – Metro Council District 17