Vanderbilt University and Metro Nashville Public Schools commit to college scholarships for last class of Imagine College

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Imagine College staff are pledging scholarships
to members of Pearl-Cohn Comprehensive Business Magnet High School’s
class of 2007-the last class to receive college financial aid through
the program.

Imagine College is a partnership of the Inner City Education
Foundation, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt
University. Since 1999, the program has provided support for teachers
and guaranteed scholarship assistance to students who graduate in four
years or less with at least a 2.5 grade point average from a
participating high school, complete courses required for college
admission and attend two university-based Scholars’ Institutes.

Grants funding both Imagine College and a second Vanderbilt-Metro
Schools education partnership, GEAR UP Nashville, will expire in 2005.
Imagine College will fulfill its commitment for financial aid pledged
to students in the classes of 2003-2007 through an endowment
established to fund the scholarships.

This month, 75 students from the class of 2004 will receive
scholarships. The $1,000 scholarships are guaranteed annually for up to
four years and can be used within a five-year window following
students’ graduation from high school. The scholarships are sent to the
college or university of the graduate’s choice.

Services provided by Imagine College and GEAR UP-such as teacher
professional development, academic support for students and guaranteed
scholarship assistance for students from lower-income families-are
increasingly available through Metro Schools and the Tennessee HOPE
scholarships program. In order to create a smooth transition, Imagine
College and GEAR UP staff will work together with Metro personnel in
providing these services through the end of the 2004-05 academic year.

"Metro Schools plans to absorb many of the program elements of
Imagine College and GEAR UP Nashville, and we stand ready to assist
them both through the transition and in the future to help Metro
Schools and Nashville’s students achieve academic success," said
Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human
Development at Peabody College.

"The district is now providing opportunities for teacher
professional development that were unavailable when Imagine College
began," said Sandra Johnson, chief instructional officer for
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

GEAR UP Nashville, which was launched in 2000, focuses on inner city
youth at the middle school level with similar goals of improving
instructional capacity, fostering student achievement and encouraging
college attendance. Both Imagine College and GEAR UP are run out of the
Peabody College of education and human development at Vanderbilt.

Imagine College serves Pearl-Cohn Comprehensive Business Magnet High
School and its feeder schools-W.A. Bass and McKissack middle schools.
In May 2003, 50 high school seniors from Pearl-Cohn were the first to
be awarded Imagine College scholarships.

Imagine College and GEAR UP staff will continue to provide on-site
professional development and family outreach support to participating
schools through the 2004-2005 school year.

"We have been honored to serve Metro schools for the past five years
and have especially appreciated the partnership and commitment of
teachers, principals, parents, district administrators and other
community stakeholders who are working tirelessly to open new doors for
students," said Marcy Singer Gabella, Imagine College project director
and Vanderbilt assistant provost for initiatives in education.

GEAR UP-Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate
Programs-is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education designed
to help low-income students pursue college education by providing extra
support, starting in middle school. In 2000, the federal agency awarded
Vanderbilt University a five-year grant totaling $5.7 million to
prepare students and motivate them to pursue higher education.

The program serves W.A. Bass, McKissack, Bailey, Dalewood and Litton middle schools, and Pearl-Cohn and Stratford high schools.

"The opportunity to work with Metro Schools’ middle school students
has been a wonderful experience, and now the work done through GEAR UP
will become an integral part of the district’s professional
development," said Joseph Cunningham, GEAR UP Nashville project
director and chair of Peabody’s Department of Human and Organizational

Vanderbilt will rely on Metro Schools and local partners to ensure
that Imagine College students in the classes of 2006 and 2007 are able
to meet the requirements to receive their guaranteed scholarships.

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Media contact: Princine Lewis, (615) 322-NEWS