The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund is working to end the wealth gap in college tuition. Ben Navarro, founder of Meeting Street Schools, pioneered the concept of a public-private partnership between school districts and private contributors and is now replicating this successful public-private partnership in other facets of education, including scholarship funding.
Since the beginning of 2021, student loan debt is up to $1.7 trillion, according to EducationData.org. However, ThinkImpact.com estimates that only 7% or 1 in 8 students are likely to receive a scholarship, and only about 0.3% of students receive enough money to cover the cost of college. The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund has a mission to allow every student who wants to go to college to have the financial means.
Currently, most students receive financial support through private scholarships or public grants. Private scholarships have a faster turnaround, fewer regulations, and fewer applicants in the proposal pool. Still, those who qualify for the scholarship depend on the individual scholarship program, often based on merit, talent, or academic performance. Public grants are based on financial need and have firm applications and deadlines; however, the process can be lengthy, complex and competitive.
The Meeting Street Scholarship Fund is paving the way for this new model of scholarship, a symbiotic public-private partnership. The Fund provides up to $10,000 in annual scholarship awards for a total of up to $40,000 over four years. It is privately funded, removing the complexities and regulations of the public grant application process. Yet, it remains need-based and available to any Charleston County District School student who qualifies for a Federal Pell Grant and meets the required academic criteria. The private/public model of scholarships allows the focus to remain on preparing students for their journey in higher education and is the first step of many as we begin to close the wealth gap in tuition.
“Student debt continues to be an unresolved issue in this country. Currently, students face a lengthy process when applying for a public grant, which does not come even close to covering the expense of college or being denied private funding because they don’t meet a set of selective criteria,” Ben Navarro says. “The success that I saw by creating the private-public partnership in the Meeting Street Schools showed me how to use this model in other realms of education. Every student who is passionate about higher education deserves to go to college, and the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund will get every one of them there.”