The Issue

The REACH Georgia Scholarship Program was designed with the middle band of students in mind – low-income kids who demonstrate true academic promise, but may not have the personal motivation, academic preparation or financial support they need to obtain a postsecondary degree, diploma or career certificate. Students from low-income households often lack the guidance and support they need to prepare for college, apply to schools that are an ideal fit, apply for financial assistance, enroll, persist and ultimately graduate.

As stated in the 2012 Georgia Budget & Policy Institute report, “Georgians in poverty are less likely to attain higher education than people better off financially. More than 65 percent of poor Georgians ages 25 and older do not have any higher education, while 61 percent of Georgians not in poverty have taken some form of higher education.”

Lower Educational Attainment Keeps Georgians Closer to Poverty Line
Source: Georgia Budget & Policy Institute

In 2014:

  • 21,986 students dropped out of Georgia public schools
  • 73% of Georgia high school students graduated in four years
  • 63% of economically disadvantaged students graduated high school on time


This being said, two out of every five low-income Georgia high school students do not graduate in four years. This dramatically reduces their chances of enrolling in and graduating from either two- or four-year colleges, and thus their ability to gain employment and enter our 21st-century workforce. Today only 50% of low-income students who graduate from high school in Georgia go on to college.

Once viewed as a pathway to opportunity for a select few, earning a postsecondary credential or having specialized training and skills is now a prerequisite for tomorrow’s economic success. It is estimated that 60 percent of adults will need a college diploma or career certificate by 2025 in order to meet the needs of the state’s future workforce needs – and only 45.3 percent of the state’s adult population currently holds postsecondary credentials.

Metro Atlantans in Poverty Less Likely to Achieve Higher Education
Source: Georgia Budget & Policy Institute

Without intervention to increase Georgia’s college completion rate, the state’s economic viability is in jeopardy. In order to reach the Complete College Georgia goal of 60 percent of adults with a college diploma or certificate by 2020, Georgia colleges and universities must have approximately 250,000 additional graduates over the next six years, or an annual increase of more than five percent in diplomas or certificates received. REACH directly addresses this critical need, generating opportunities for more Georgia students to enter the postsecondary education pipeline, and subsequently, for more college graduates to enter the diversified workforce of the future.

The path to postsecondary education starts long before a student’s senior year of high school. Recent studies suggest that, particularly in high-poverty environments, a student’s experience in the middle grades (6th – 8th) strongly impacts the odds of graduating from high school and enrolling in college. Starting in middle school, REACH partners with school systems to provide Scholars with a mentor and an academic coach who will support them through high school. REACH can be the game-changing factor for children all across Georgia, breaking the cycle of poverty that they may otherwise be destined to face.1


  1. “Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path – A Policy and Practice Brief,” Robert Blafanz., National Middle School Association