By Meghan Daniel for The Island Eye News
In the spirit of the season of giving, Charleston-area residents Ben and Kelly Navarro recently announced a sizable recurring gift for Charleston County School District students. The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, the couple’s newest philanthropic venture, has the potential to provide more than 500 CCSD students with up to $10,000 toward the cost of college tuition.
“The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund is designed to encourage students across Charleston County to work hard in school, dream of attending a great college and to help narrow the financial gap that keeps too many students from earning a college degree,” the Navarros explained.
To be eligible for the scholarship funds, students must graduate from a CCSD public high school; earn a LIFE (Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence) or Palmetto Fellows state-provided scholarship; qualify for a federal Pell Grant; and be accepted to a South Carolina college or university with a six-year graduation rate of 50% or higher.
According to the scholarship’s website, the amount of funds allocated per student will depend on “the college’s costs of attendance and the student’s funding gap after other scholarship and grant awards are applied. If the funding gap is greater than $10,000, the full amount of the Meeting Street Scholarship will be awarded. If the funding gap is less than $10,000, the Meeting Street Scholarship will provide up to the remaining amount owed to the college.”
Students, who may apply between Feb. 25 and April 16, will be notified no later than May 31 as to whether they will receive funding.
The creation of this milestone scholarship fund cements the couple’s commitment to improving educational opportunities for South Carolina students. Twelve years ago, they founded Meeting Street Schools, a statewide initiative that provides children with “transformational educational opportunities regardless of their geographic and socioeconomic circumstances,” according to the Meeting Street Schools website. Ben Navarro described the Meeting Street Schools collective as having “the ability to build teams, identify changes and innovate in the way that we teach students and partner with families.” The Navarros assert that the success of Meeting Street Schools inspired the development of the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund.
Between Meeting Street Schools and the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, the Navarros are helping to transform the quality of and accessibility to education in South Carolina.
A number of area leaders have already expressed praise for the scholarship fund.
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait remarked, “This scholarship fund provides a tremendous opportunity for more Charleston County School District students to fulfill their goal of earning a college degree. Hopefully, this will allow students who previously thought college was unattainable to now see it as a viable option for them.”
The Navarros said of their hopes for the growth of the scholarship fund: “This is an idea that can transform lives in our community but is also possible in other parts of our state and nation. We hope to provide a road map for others to support students [aiming to] achieve their dream of college graduation.”