AmCham Georgia and the McLain Association for Children, Georgia (MAC Georgia) launched a new university scholarship program in September with the generous support of AmCham member companies. The program aims to offer students from low-income and disadvantaged families an opportunity to pursue higher education. It will pay for four years of tuition payments as well as providing a stipend to help cover the cost of living.
MAC Georgia CEO Jeremy Gaskill says that the idea for the scholarship first came about after discussions with AmCham Executive Director George Welton about MAC Georgia’s existing scholarship program. MAC’s existing program has been operating in the country for ten years and has supported more than 226 at-risk students from rural communities. “George and I would discuss our scholarship program periodically and imagine what it would be like if other individuals and companies started doing the same. How many lives across the country could be impacted for the better? AmCham, with its large membership, was perfectly placed to mobilize this support,” said Jeremy.
The scholarship is both needs and merit-based, using the government’s targeted social assistance evaluation system to identify those with “significant financial need.” From there, a selection panel made up of MAC, AmCham staff, and the AmCham Board used national entrance exam results, applications, and interviews to select the scholarship recipients. Gaskill says that beyond exam results, the selection panel looked at students’ “motivation and commitment.”
As Jeremy from MAC explains, “It was important to us that we target those students who likely wouldn’t be able to attend higher education without the support of outside financing. From that pool, we then looked at a couple different qualities. To be honest, I came away inspired from those interviews by the maturity and intelligence of the candidates. These were kids who had gone without the benefits of tutors and other resources enjoyed by many. Yet they had goals and determination and accomplishments already to show for it.”
The program received more than a hundred applications, with 51 students making it to the interview phase and 30 students offered four-year scholarships. Beyond the financial assistance provided, the program will offer its scholarship recipients additional professional development opportunities, including internship placements and support in securing employment post-university.
George Welton, AmCham Executive Director, further commented, “This program doesn’t just ease a financial burden but opens doors to the amazing network that is AmCham. My hope is that we’ll see this program evolve in the years to come to include more personal and professional development opportunities beyond just a university education. The AmCham community possesses enormous resources and I hope that we’ll increasingly draw from these to cultivate and prepare tomorrow’s leaders.”
AmCham and MAC Georgia would like to express our deepest gratitude for the generous support from several of our AmCham member companies. Thank you to Bank of Georgia, Gulf, TBC, Hilton Batumi, Nutrimax, APM Terminals Poti, BICT, BLB, Peri, School of Progress, TBC Leasing, and GeoWel Research. This program would not be possible without you!