JCTC AMIT Center Exterior

The advanced manufacturing center at Jefferson Community & Technical College, which opened in August 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A nonprofit organization backed by some of Louisville’s wealthiest residents said Tuesday that it will ensure any member of Jefferson County Public Schools’ incoming senior class can attend Jefferson Community & Technical College or Simmons College of Kentucky tuition-free starting next year.

Evolve502 said 750 to 800 members of the JCPS Class of 2021 are expected to benefit from the scholarship, which can be used for an associates degree or to build credits that can be easily transferred to the University of Louisville on the way to a bachelors degree.

“Today we’re delivering the promise to the Class of 2021 – an opportunity to attend college without the burden of tuition,” Marland Cole, executive director of Evolve502, said in a news release. “Through this investment, we’re providing a more equitable pathway to college, career and life success for all students, especially our low-income, first generation college going and black and brown students. Today is about bringing hope and promise to our young people and this community for a better way forward.”

Evolve502 grew out of Louisville’s 55,000 degrees, a nonprofit effort to increase educational attainment in Jefferson County. The organization’s bigger donors include Humana Inc. board member David Jones, Jr. and his wife Mary Gwen Wheeler, several members of the family that controls Louisville-based Brown-Forman Corp., and Mayor Greg Fischer and his wife, Alex Gerassimides, among others, according to the organization’s website.

The scholarships will be “last dollar,” meaning Evolve502 will make up the difference between a student’s other sources of financial aid and any remaining tuition cost.

In addition to the scholarships, students whose families earn less than $40,000 annually will be eligible for grants of $1,000 per semester for other costs such as books, housing and transportation, the organization said.

Scholarship applications will be available beginning Oct. 1 at evolve502.org/scholarship, and printed copies will be available at each JCPS high school, Evolve502 said.

U of L will support the initiative by providing students from the JCPS Class of 2021 whose family income is less than $40,000 a “last dollar” scholarship to complete their degrees after transferring from JCTC or Simmons, according to the news release.

“We realize that the path to a degree and a rewarding career is often blocked by financial obstacles. UofL’s recently completed strategic plan includes a commitment to increase degree attainment in the region and the amount of need-based financial aid to our students, and this partnership with Evolve502 will move us toward fulfilling both goals,” U of L Provost Beth Boehm said in a news release.

Evolve502 said its “ultimate goal is to raise $50 million that will allow every student in the JCPS Classes of 2021-2034 to have a chance to apply for an Evolve502 scholarship.”

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