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"Rising Star" Pilot Program

October 29, 1998 — DCCCD Foundation Piloting Program in Southern Dallas
That Will Pay for Low Income Students’ Community College Education

(DALLAS) — No longer will middle or high school students from low income families in Dallas County have to say, "College is too expensive," or "I can’t afford a college education." The Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Foundation, under the leadership of Chairman Robert L. Thornton III, is creating a program that will remove financial barriers for students from low income families who want to attend one of DCCCD’s seven community colleges.

Called Rising Star, the program has been in development since last October. "Our original plan was to begin offering these scholarships to May 2000 high school graduates," said Mr. Thornton. "But the board is so convinced of the need for and value of this program, that we have decided to begin one year earlier." The program will be piloted in the 27 high schools serving the southern half of Dallas County.

So beginning in May 1999, Southern Dallas County graduating seniors who meet the economic need requirements will have two ways to qualify for a Rising Star Scholarship: 1) Rank in the top 40 percent of their high school class; or 2) Pass the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP) test before graduating from high school. "We wanted to provide an incentive for strivers as well as achievers," said Thornton. "So even if a student waits until the senior year to buckle down, he or she will still be eligible for continued on the scholarship by passing TASP before graduation."

Thornton continued, "We aren’t giving them an Easter basket full of goodies. Students will have to contribute sweat equity to be eligible. They’ll have to work hard and make the commitment to finish high school." The Foundation has raised $1 million of the $2 million needed to fund the first year of the two-year pilot program. A $15 million endowment is needed to fund the program in Southern Dallas County in perpetuity. It is estimated that a $30 million endowment will be needed to fund the program throughout Dallas County by the year 2001.

DCCCD is a comprehensive two-year system comprising seven campuses — Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland colleges — the LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications and the Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development, a job training and business services center. The DCCCD Foundation is a 501C3 non-profit organization that raises money for DCCCD scholarships and programs.

For more information, or to schedule an interview with DCCCD Chancellor Bill Wenrich or Bob Thornton, contact: Georgeann Moss at (214) 860-2478.