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New Belmont Initiative Provides Full Scholarships, Educational Support to 25 Metro School Students

Bridges to Belmont program immerses local students in summer program to foster academic success

Thanks to a new full scholarship program from Belmont University, 25 Metro Nashville high school seniors will receive the opportunity to attend college next year. The Bridges to Belmont program is designed to enroll high potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools who may not have previously been able to consider Belmont as an option.

Belmont University President Bob Fisher said, “We believe every young person has potential for great success with the biggest challenge often being simply the absence of opportunity. This is Belmont’s attempt to step up and provide that opportunity to high potential students here in Nashville. Of all the projects we’ve undertaken in the past decade, I can’t think of any that make me more proud to be at Belmont.”

In addition to the full scholarships, the Bridges to Belmont program will focus on creating a learning and service environment to empower students’ personal passion to meet the needs of the world. Bridge students will live and work on campus the summer prior to enrollment while attending an intensive institute that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities the college environment will offer. Programming will focus on quantitative reasoning, writing, public speaking skills and research methods as well as on creating a community of learners. The summer immersion program also will include community service and social activities for participants.

The pilot Bridges to Belmont program is open to students from Maplewood and Stratford High Schools for the 2013-2014 academic year and eventually could expand to include other Metro Nashville Public Schools. The charter Bridge class members will be nominated by principals at each high school. Preferred candidates for the 25 available slots will be taking a college prep curriculum and feature strong recommendations regarding academic motivation and personal character. (Click here to view video highlights of Tuesday’s press conference.)

“The Bridges to Belmont program will be life-changing for the students selected,” said Metro Schools’ Director Dr. Jesse Register. “The opportunity to attend Belmont tuition-free, as well as participate in the summer transition program, is a tremendous example of how the community can and does support our schools and our students. Belmont is a great partner for Metro Schools, and today’s announcement is another example of how this partnership is bringing lasting benefits to individual students and our community. I want to thank President Fisher and everyone who has worked to make this program a reality.”

After state and federal grant assistance is applied, Belmont University will provide the remaining funds to ensure Bridge students have a full financial package to cover tuition, room, board and books.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to partner with Belmont University. Belmont has a rich heritage and is distinguished as an institution where service, compassion and courage are exemplified in their values. I truly believe that the academic design for this program is ‘forward thinking’ and will promote diversity as well as bridge the gap for first-generation college students across the city,” said Maplewood Comprehensive High School Principal Dr. Ron Woodard.

Stratford STEM Magnet High School Executive Principal Michael Steele added, “This gift, this amazing gift, is an opportunity of a lifetime for these students, and I am thrilled for our students. Belmont is an exceptional institution, and these students are being blessed. One day they will look back and thank God for this life changing gift.”

Bridges to Belmont is the result of a deliberate effort on the part of Belmont’s administration to engage inner-city students with the University. Belmont senior leaders along with University enrollment and academic officers have met with MNPS principals and admission counselors during the past several months to establish the foundations for the program. Bridges to Belmont also reflects a continuing effort to provide higher education to students in Davidson County as Belmont strives to be Nashville’s University. In 2007, Belmont established the E.S. Rose Park and Community Outreach Scholarships, and there are 11 current Belmont students—all from Davidson County—who are benefiting from those efforts.

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