news | April 19, 2021

James Graham Brown Foundation gifts $3 million to Evolve502 for Opportunity Grants

Back to News & Resources

The James Graham Brown Foundation has committed $3 million to Evolve502 for opportunity grants to provide additional financial support to the lowest-income students.

The Evolve502 Scholarship allows eligible Jefferson County Public Schools students in the Class of 2021 to begin postsecondary studies tuition-free at any Kentucky Community and Technical College school or Simmons College of Kentucky, to pursue an associate degree or career credential, or take 60 hours of credit before transferring to a four-year university.


In addition to the scholarship, students from families earning less than $40,000 annually are eligible for opportunity grants of $1,000 per semester (maximum $2,000 annually) to assist with non-tuition related costs of attending college such as books, housing, technology, transportation etc. Students who are Opportunity Grant recipients and remain Pell Grant eligible, will have the opportunity to pursue a 2+2 program with the University of Louisville, allowing students to complete up to 60 credit hours through the Evolve502 Scholarship and then finishing a four year-degree tuition-free at UofL.

The James Graham Brown Foundation gift will support Opportunity Grant recipients in both the JCPS Classes of 2021 and 2022.

The gift, announced during a press conference April 19 at Iroquois High School, is the largest gift to Evolve502 to date.

“We’re so thankful to the James Graham Brown Foundation for this generous gift. This commitment supports our most in-need scholars, giving them the extra financial support needed to cover costs outside of tuition,” said Marland Cole, Evolve502 Executive Director. “At a time of financial uncertainty and the need for equitable opportunity in our city, our scholarship and opportunity grants offer a source of hope and promise to JCPS students and their families.”

“The James Graham Brown Foundation has been an ardent supporter of lifelong learning and Evolve502. The Foundation is pleased to join the commitment to postsecondary attainment and equity with the Opportunity Grants program which reflects our shared community values,” said Mason Rummel, President and CEO of the James Graham Brown Foundation.

Evolve502 is currently in Phase 2 of its fundraising and to date, has raised $14.85 million. The overall goal is for Evolve502 to raise $50 million to fund the scholarship, Opportunity Grants and services for JCPS graduates in the classes from 2021-2034.

Evolve502’s intent is to increase college access, support and success for JCPS students who want to attend college or get workforce 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.

Class of 2021 students can apply now through June 30 at evolve502.org/scholarship. To date, more than 800 JCPS seniors in the Class of 2021 have applied.