AMERICUS — Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) is Georgia’s first public-private needs-based scholarship opportunity. It was launched in 2012, by Governor Nathan Deal as a part of the Complete College Georgia Initiative. REACH is a needs-based mentorship and scholarship program designed to encourage students, starting in middle school, to persist in their educational pursuits. Students are provided with the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, achieve post-secondary success, and be prepared for the 21st Century workforce. http://www.reachga.com/index.cfm. Prospective students completed a lengthy application for the REACH Georgia scholarship program. The application was comprised of a series of short-answer questions about future education/career plans, and students had to provide two references: one academic reference from a teacher or school employee, and one community reference from a pastor, coach, or family friend. Prospective REACH scholars then went before an interview panel that included community leaders and sponsors. Selection criteria was based on the students’ demonstration of academic promise with respect to his or her grades, attendance, and behavior. Students will need to maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average throughout their middle and high school career to receive the scholarship. The students and their parents will also be required to attend school-sponsored activities that incorporate future educational/career plans such as college campus tours and outreach activities. The REACH Georgia Scholarship also motivates REACH Scholars by providing mentoring and coaching throughout their school career and beyond. On Tuesday, Sumter County Schools (SCS) recognized five eighth-grade students from Sumter County Middle School as 2017-2018 REACH Georgia Scholars. Chidery Agbasi, Ajyah Foster, Makayla Hartage, Heidy Moreno-Rubio, and Fonzel Tullis will receive a $10,000 scholarship upon successfully graduating from high school. Sumter County Schools superintendent, Torrance Choates, Ed.D., commended the students for their hard work and achievements and also encouraged the students to “reach for the moon and beyond.” SCS district employees, state Rep. Bill McGowan, D-Americus, John Watford, Ed.D. (president of South Georgia Technical College), parents and other community members showed their support at the signing ceremony as well. The Americus Kiwanis Club, Americus Rotary Club, and One Sumter Economic Development Foundation Inc. sponsored the scholars for 2017-2018 by donating generous amounts to the students’ scholarship funds. The students and their parents signed a Commitment Pledge to honor their commitment to meeting the expectations and requirements of the scholarship program.