LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Jefferson County Public Schools students in eighth grade or higher may be eligible for two years of free college education through scholarships offered by Evolve502.

Evolve502 announced Wednesday that its scholarship program has been fully funded through the Class of 2026, which covers this year’s class of eighth-grade students, after the nonprofit secured $20 million in donor support, including a $5 million gift from the C.E. and S. Foundation.

In April, Evolve502 announced it had secured enough donor support to offer its two-year college scholarship to every eligible high school student at JCPS.

Marland Cole, executive director of Evolve502, said Wednesday’s announcement marked “a major milestone in our fundraising efforts” and allowed the nonprofit “to make the promise of free tuition to our first class of middle school students.”

“We’re truly creating a college-going culture for our students,” she said in a statement.

Evolve502’s scholarships cover two years of tuition, after state and federal aid are applied, at Kentucky Community and Technical College or Simmons College of Kentucky for eligible JCPS graduates.

Scholarship applicants must be Kentucky residents, JCPS students since at least the ninth grade, and graduate on time or earn a GED within a year of their original high school graduate date, though Evolve502 will consider applicants who do not meet full eligibility requirements, according to scholarship information posted on Evolve502’s website.

Students from households that earn less than $40,000 per year are also eligible for opportunity grants worth up to $1,000 each semester to help with other college-related costs like textbooks, housing, technology and transportation.

Students in the Class of 2022 have until July 15 to apply, and Evolve502 says more than 500 have already applied for scholarships since the application period began Oct. 1.

Garland said Evolve502 is “incredibly grateful” for support from the C.E. & S. Foundation and its fundraising challenge to the Jefferson County community.

“The Foundation put forth this challenge grant because, in the words of our co-founder David Jones, Sr, ‘We want to help, and we want friends to join us,’” Tess McNair, executive director of the C.E. & S. Foundation, said in a statement. “Today, I’m grateful to the other foundations, the businesses, the individual donors, and the city of Louisville for joining us to support Evolve502 so that all eligible JCPS graduates will be able to afford postsecondary education.”

Other Evolve502 contributors include the James Graham Brown Foundation, Louisville Metro Government, Louisville Urban League, the Jo H. Whittenberg Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville and the Sutherland Foundation, according to a news release from Evolve502.

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