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Independence Promise & ACT 456

Independence Promise & ACT 456 Project UPDATE: Independence Promise Becomes ACT 456 (April 2019). Gov. Asa Hutchison signed SB343 into law in March 2018 and it is now ACT 456, formally eliminating the need for ongoing raising of local dollars to fund these scholarships. The funders were notified and invited to a ceremony of celebration and will have the opportunity to review their financial commitment and reallocate it to other Foundation programming, if desired.
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Independence Promise Program (August 2018)

When it comes to the future and fabric of a community, there may be nothing more crucial than education. The Independence County Public Education Foundation was formed to address the importance of K-12 and continuing education for improving quality of life and bolster economic prosperity in the region. At a time when financial barriers to college and low wage jobs pose significant challenges for American families, the Foundation has worked in conjunction with the IMPACT initiative for excellence to bridge the equity gap in Independence County. The resulting Independence Promise scholarship program will provide widespread access to higher education for students throughout the county.

In July of 2018, the Public Education Foundation met with area school, community, and business leaders to publicly announce the launch of the new program, which had already begun accepting applications for the upcoming semester. The group celebrated this highly collaborative achievement, remarking on the positive change it will bring over time. Independence Promise will support students in transitioning from high school into higher education and vocational training by offering financial aid for concurrent classes and career exposure opportunities. Two different local institutions, UACCB, a two-year community college, and Lyon College, a private liberal arts school, joined the cause with full support and helped develop the plan. Both welcomed the increase in enrollment and the added connection to the community that will be established.

A key aspect of the plan is that the Foundation raises private funds from which to share the financial responsibility of the education and training opportunities. This type of unique collaborative, cost-sharing model has been found through studies noted by the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research to be most effective for helping students successfully completed courses. 

Before the program had even launched, the Foundation had collected over $180,000 in funding from businesses and donors who believe in the goal to promote the best interests of individuals and the region. ForwARd Arkansas, a partnership comprised of the AR Board of Education, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, made $16,000 in community funding available to a local Fast ForwARd Fund Committee which allocated all funding to the Promise program in recognition of this long-term endeavor to make the community more equitable and prosperous. By creating an environment that supports access to higher credentials locally, residents can expect to see an increase in higher living wages and more specialized labor among the population. With enthusiasm and pride, the county looks forward to the contributions that its young people will bring to the area in years to come.

  • The student’s high school will pay for 20% of the total of two (2) courses per semester/term (Fall and Spring) and the annual transcript fee at UACCB (if applicable) per awarded student.

  • The student is responsible for an amount PER COURSE as determined by his/her national student lunch status (see guidelines below).

  • The Foundation scholarship funds will pay the remaining cost up to two (2) courses per semester/term (Fall andSpring) per awarded student and the annual transcript fee at UACCB (if applicable).

After the school district pays 20% for up to two courses per semester, the student’s fee is determined by his or her national lunch status, which is based on household income. Many families will pay as little as $40 for three credit hours. The remaining costs are fully covered by the Promise scholarship.

By establishing this fund, the Foundation expects to support students who mutually promise to apply their best academic efforts in seeking to extend their education or training beyond that provided by the school systems of Independence County. Students who meet the minimum requirements for standard achievement tests and GPA are eligible, and they are further required to maintain good attendance, make a “C” average or better, and direct their efforts with a plan toward career or college by taking transferable classes.

  • Attend Batesville, Cedar Ridge, Midland or Southside School District(s).
  • Achieve placement test scores which result in eligibility for college enrollment and meet all other college admission requirements (see placement chart below)
UACCB Placement Chart | UACCB Admissions Requirements (for concurrent enrollment)

Lyon College Placement Chart

  • Attend Batesville, Cedar Ridge, Midland or Southside School District(s).
  • Achieve placement test scores which result in eligibility for college enrollment and meet all other college admission requirements (see placement chart below)
  • Achieve a 90% attendance and punctuality record during all high school semesters (9th grade onward). Documentation is required for extenuating circumstances.
  • Have a career plan to earn a credential leading directly to employment or obtain credit hours in courses that fit the criteria of the Arkansas Course Transfer System (ACTS) in pursuit of a degree.

  • Complete an Independence Promise scholarship application and submit for first review by Apr. 1st  (for fall coursework) or Nov. 1st (for spring coursework).
  • Maintain a minimum 2.5 overall GPA and a final grade of “C” or higher for all college-level coursework for continued eligibility and student contract compliance.
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