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Growing Advantage Shelby County seeks volunteers

Ami Jackson, scholarship coordinator for the Advantage Shelby County program, asked for mentors to join the growing effort to send the county’s high school grads on to higher education and improve the local work force.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

After just two years, a scholarship program to help launch county high school graduates into technical careers or higher education has grown sharply.

In the fall of 2017, there were 169 applicants for the Advantage Shelby County scholarships.

By the fall of 2018, that number more than doubled to 355.

Advantage Shelby County offers tuition support to qualified high school graduates across Shelby County to pursue technical degrees or college prep courses at Ivy Tech Community College.

Scholarship Coordinator Ami Jackson told a group gathered for a monthly networking luncheon sponsored by Major Health Partners that she needs help.

“Volunteers. We need volunteers,” she said.

Students in Advantage Shelby County are paired with adult mentors to help guide them through the two-year program which includes taking a full-time course load plus doing volunteer community service. 

Ten hours of volunteer service, or a program work requirement with a company in Shelby County, per semester are required of the students.

“That’s how they pay for their scholarships,” Jackson told the luncheon meeting on Thursday.

Both the city of Shelbyville and Shelby County government contribute to fund the scholarships which are supplements to other funding sources. 

Federal student financial aid is first, followed by state assistance and then institutional scholarships; only after students tap those sources does Advantage Shelby County offer financial support.

“It could be as low as $30 to the full $2,500,” Jackson said, referring to the ASC scholarships.

Students in the Advantage program must start taking classes at Ivy Tech right after high school graduation so they don’t lose that school mindset, she said.

Those who complete the High School Equivalency test prior to their 19th birthday are also eligible.

Applicants must have a minimum final GPA of at least 2.0 to qualify for Advantage Shelby County.

“That’s a hard requirement,” said Jackson.

 Advantage program students have a choice of four degree paths:

n Advanced Automation and Robotics

n Business Administration

n Transfer General Education 

n Transfer Single Articulation Pathway

The transfer programs allow students to move on to a four-year college or university; the TSAP program has 14 specialized fields of study including computer science, education and nursing.

Randy Foreman, an Advantage student, accompanied Jackson to the luncheon. He’s in the criminal justice program, and former Shelbyville police Chief Keith England is his mentor.

“The mentor program is one of the best assets,” said Foreman, adding he’s setting up a ride-along with the department.

Mentors must pass a background check to be eligible for assignment to a student.

For more information on becoming a mentor, or applying to be a student in the program, go to www.ivytech.edu and search for “Advantage Shelby County.”

Advantage Shelby County

n Scholarship program for county high school grads

n Two-year education at Ivy Tech Community College

n Up to full tuition assistance available for qualified students 

n Mentors needed to guide students 

For information on becoming a mentor or enrolling the the program, go to: www.ivytech.edu - search for “Advantage Shelby County”