Crosby Scholars’ drive to fund growth

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — On a typical Saturday morning from January through March, roughly 400 seventh- and eighth-graders from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County public schools visit the campus of Forsyth Technical Community College to attend workshops on their personal and academic development.

The workshops, known as the Crosby Scholars Academy, are offered by the Crosby Scholars Community Partnership, a nonprofit formed in 1992 that provides resources to equip students and parents in Forsyth County for education beyond high school.

Operating with an annual budget of $933,000, Crosby Scholars has graduated over 4,555 seniors and awarded $3.35 million in scholarships.

This year, the agency is serving roughly 7,000 students from grades six through 12, expects to graduate 475 seniors and has awarded about $330,000 in scholarships.

And in April, it plans to kick off the public phase of a campaign to raise $3.7 million, funds it will use to address rising demand for services, says Mona Lovett, the agency’s executive director.

Over the past three years, she says, the number of students the agency serves has grown 40 percent.

Fueling that growth, she says, is heightened awareness about the importance of access to higher education and the need for continuing education for economic development and a robust workforce.

With funds from the campaign, Crosby Scholars expects to serve 10,000 students by 2015, graduate over 700 seniors a year, and award nearly $500,000 in scholarships.

Chaired by Michael Rogers, its board chair and senior vice president and loan team manager at Wells Fargo, the campaign already has raised about 35 percent of its goal in a quiet phase that began in October 2010.

Honorary co-chairs of the campaign are Paul Fulton, board chair of Bassett Furniture Industries and former president of Sara Lee Corp., and Rich Noll, chairman and CEO of Hanesbrands.

Crosby Scholars takes its name from the Crosby National Celebrity Golf Tournament, an event that was held in nearby Bermuda Run from 1985 through 2001.

From the agency’s launch through the tournament’s departure from the region, Crosby Scholars was the main beneficiary of the event, which was hosted and coordinated by Sara Lee and raised over $18 million for local and national charities.

A partnership of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, the Winston-Salem Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and United Way of Forsyth County, the Crosby Scholars program continues to benefit from a smaller golf event, the Crosby Scholars Invitational, which this year will be held at Bermuda Run on May 22.

Any student in sixth through 12th grade in Forsyth County public schools may participate in the Crosby Scholars program, which offers a year-long series of workshops for students and their families geared to each grade level from middle school through high school

Typically offered evenings and Saturdays, often at Forsyth Tech but sometimes at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, sessions range from preparing sixth-graders and their parents for middle school, to understanding requirements for college and how to prepare for SAT tests, complete college applications and apply for scholarships and financial  aid.

A series of four workshops for Hispanic parents, offered in Spanish, aims to help them understand how to help their children navigate the school system and support them high school.

With a staff of four people working full-time and about 10 working part-time, as well as roughly 200 volunteers, the Crosby Scholars program also requires each participating student to perform at least two hours of community service a year and to remain drug-free in high school and participate in random drug testing.

The program does not provide tutoring or help students with homework but it does connect them with tutoring programs and talks to students how to study, take tests, manage their time and set goals.

“In our county,” says Lovett, “we’re a resource that students and parents use to help them prepare for higher education.”

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