A new program is now in place to identify at-risk students by sixth grade, and to support them as "Rising Scholars" as they progress from middle to high school and on to a career.

The Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation has invested in the future by awarding a $15,000 grant to The Kent State University-Geauga and Regional Academic Center Rising Scholars Program to work with four school districts: Twinsburg City Schools, Berkshire Local Schools, Cardinal Local Schools and Nordonia Hills City Schools.

"I feel that the Rising Scholars program will provide a great resource for students in the community," says Robin Dever, middle childhood education professor and program coordinator at KSU-Geauga. "It is our intent that the students who complete the program will be successful in whatever path they choose post-graduation. I am honored that the Cleveland Foundation shares the same enthusiasm for the program and is helping us achieve this goal. For this, I am very thankful!"

In the program’s first year, two students will be chosen from each district at the end of their sixth-grade year as potential first-generation college students, for a total of eight Rising Scholars. Each year thereafter, an additional eight students will be added to the program.

"At its fullest capacity, we will have 48 students in the program, eight per grade, plus six grades," Dever said. "We are beginning the program with two KSU students who will serve as mentors. One will be based in Geauga County, working with the Berkshire and Cardinal districts, while the other is based in Twinsburg, working with the Twinsburg and Nordonia Hills schools. As the program grows, our intent is to add more mentors as needed."

For the remainder of their years before high school graduation, a KSU student mentor will meet with Rising Scholars every month to ensure their success either in college, the workforce, or military options after graduation. Rising Scholars will participate in a summer workshop focusing on academic skills and will attend biannual workshops emphasizing education and local career paths.

Students will be supervised and guided over a six-year period until they enroll in post-secondary education. Any college-bound Rising Scholar may apply for a sponsored scholarship covering the cost of tuition at Kent State-Geauga. To be eligible, Rising Scholars must have participated in the entire program, have maintained a minimum 2.5 GPA, and have agreed to serve as a university student mentor for new scholars entering the program. Scholarship recipients are then expected to commit to working in northeast Ohio for a specified amount of time after college graduation.

To help support the Kent State University-Geauga and Regional Academic Center Rising Scholars Program, contact Dever at rdever2@kent.edu to inquire further.