A transformational scholarship that eliminates the financial barrier to college for high-achieving, under-resourced students soon will be available in Allendale County.
The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund will offer up to $40,000 over four years for in-state tuition, fees, housing or food to eligible Allendale County students who plan to enroll in college in fall 2024.
The scholarship’s expansion into Allendale is made possible by Jessica and Todd Aaron of Charleston, both of whom are passionate about making college a reality for deserving students.
“We are grateful to the Aarons for their generous support that will create more life-changing opportunities for Allendale County students,” said Ben Navarro, founder of the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund. “We are humbled by all donors who have gotten behind Mission 46, which is the campaign to make this scholarship available to qualified students across South Carolina. This is so much bigger than a scholarship; this is about improving the future of our state and empowering the next generation to thrive.”
The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund is one of the largest privately funded scholarship programs in the country. Part of what makes it unique is that all qualified applicants receive scholarships; there’s no limit to the number of students who can receive it.
Allendale County is the 12th in the state where the Scholarship will be available; the other 11 counties are: Barnwell, Charleston, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg.
“It’s important to us that students of all means have the opportunity to go to college and earn a degree,” said Jessica Aaron, a former social worker who’s committed to improving education outcomes in South Carolina. “The Meeting Street Scholarship has been impactful to hundreds of students across the state in enabling debt-free access to college, and we are excited to support its expansion into Allendale County.”
The Scholarship’s expansion into Allendale County is especially significant given the rural region’s challenges. The district has been under state management since 2017, with the state committing to an infusion of significant resources to empower the community. With 32 percent of residents living in poverty and 10 percent of adults holding a bachelor’s degree, the Scholarship offers unprecedented opportunity for local students to pursue their dreams of higher education.
“My commitment to the people of Allendale has been that we will work together to ensure every student achieves their full potential,” said Ellen Weaver, state superintendent of education for South Carolina. “This partnership with the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund will help accomplish exactly that by providing a trajectory of hope for students, their families and the entire community. I am deeply grateful that the Scholarship leaders and donors chose Allendale to benefit from this profound gift. I am confident that their demonstrated belief in the students of Allendale will pay dividends for generations to come.”
The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund has provided a total of $21.6 million in scholarships to 540 students since its inception. The scholarship covers remaining costs after all other scholarships and need-based grants up to $40,000 over four years, but it’s given prior to the use of student loans.
The Navarro family launched the Scholarship in 2020 for Charleston County students, and the Darla Moore Foundation expanded it in 2021 to the Pee Dee. New donors, including businessman Dave Proctor, have provided additional support and enabled further expansion efforts. The Navarros’ Beemok Family Foundation covers all administrative costs to operate the fund.
Meeting Street Scholarship Fund uses straightforward criteria to determine student eligibility, including the South Carolina LIFE Scholarship for academic achievement and federal Pell Grant for demonstrated financial need, which leverages the power of both existing programs.
To qualify for the Scholarship, a student must:
- Reside in Allendale, Barnwell, Charleston, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro or Williamsburg counties
- Graduate from eligible public or public charter high school
- Receive a Pell Grant
- Earn an SC LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
- Plan to attend one of 17 eligible colleges, all of which have graduation rates of 50 percent or higher
Applications for the 2024-25 school year will be open in January after the new FAFSA form is released. Students or parents interested in being notified when applications are available can fill out an interest form at meetingstreescholarshipfund.org.