Phi Theta Kappa has received a $50,000 grant from the nonprofit Education Services Foundation (ESF), to fund membership scholarships for 750 low-income Mississippi community college students.
Phi Theta Kappa membership provides students access to more than $37 million in scholarships nationally. In Mississippi, all Mississippi colleges and universities have dedicated transfer scholarships exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members.
“The partnership between Phi Theta Kappa, ESF, and Mississippi’s community colleges will have a tremendous impact on our students. As the largest higher education honor society in the nation, Phi Theta Kappa has the ability to positively impact thousands of students in Mississippi each year,” said Dr. Andrea Mayfield, Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board. “Eighty-eight percent of the state’s Phi Theta Kappa students earn an associate degree, which is nearly twice as high as non-members.
“Funds from ESF’s grant will allow low income students the opportunity to join Phi Theta Kappa, graduate from a community college, earn valuable scholarships to a university, and change their lives forever!”
Phi Theta Kappa has 34 chapters in Mississippi’s 15 community colleges. In 2015, nearly 4,000 students accepted membership, but this number represents only 15 percent of the 26,500 Mississippi students who were extended membership invitations.
“With thousands of dollars in scholarships and college completion rates hanging in the balance, the grant from ESF for Phi Theta Kappa member scholarships will have an enormous impact on the lives of Mississippi’s most talented community college students and the economic future of their communities,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO. “Our research tells us that the cost of membership is a barrier for these students.
“For these high-achieving Mississippi community college students, less than $85 stands between them and college completion.”
To be eligible for Phi Theta Kappa membership, students must generally have a 3.5 GPA and completed at least 12 credit hours at a community college. The organization then works with them throughout the remainder of their academic careers to encourage and support completion through honors programs, leadership and service opportunities and scholarship funds.
“The Education Services Foundation exists solely to help Mississippians achieve a better life through education. This grant supports our mission by helping high achieving community college students complete their associate degrees and transfer to a four-year university and by helping provide these students with leadership skills for success in their college and career paths,” explained Jim McHale, ESF President and CEO. “We hope this grant will serve as a model for organizations in other states to adopt as a means of addressing financial barriers preventing education achievements.
“We are pleased to partner with Phi Theta Kappa, an outstanding organization whose goals mesh closely with ours.”
The mission of ESF is to help Mississippians achieve a better life through education by providing services and philanthropic grants, while building permanent charitable capital. The organization’s Get2College program offers a comprehensive program to help families plan, prepare, and pay for college with services such as free ACT prep classes and assistance in completing college and financial aid applications.
The mission of the Mississippi Community College Board is to advance the community college system through coordination, support, leadership, and advocacy.
Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest, largest and most prestigious honor society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees. Phi Theta Kappa is made up of more than 3 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations.