The Martin Luther King Association of Asheville & Buncombe County is partnering on a new scholarship program with UNC-Asheville. The university will offer up to $5-thousand in grants for students who are nominated by the local MLK Association. Dr. Joe Urgo believes that will help grow the racial and socio-economic diversity of the student body at the liberal arts university. UNC-Asheville’s interim chancellor also thinks this makes the school a stronger option for students who’ve grown up here – something Urgo says currently may not always be the case.
“The best and the brightest students often think that if they’re going to get ahead they have to get away," Urgo says. "We want to provide a local option to keep those students in Asheville and hopefully then they’ll make their careers in Asheville.”
Dr. Oralene Graves Simmons is the president of the MLK Association for Asheville & Buncombe County, and she says this program has already succeeded in making local high students local college students.
“For the past 30 years we have given scholarships to outstanding students," says Simmons. "Out of the four that we presented this year, three of them chose to stay home and get their education at UNC-Asheville.”
The university expects more students to take advantage of the program for the next school year starting in the fall of 2019.
(DISCLOSURE - Blue Ridge Public Radio receives support from UNC-Asheville)