Click here to download FSD3 Senior Cohort Handout  

The Background of Our Program

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We are a Community-based Organization, based in Marietta, Georgia partnering with schools, school districts, and faith- and other community-based organizations throughout the United States. We also partner with colleges and programs like QuestBridge, LEDA, Posse, and The Gates Scholarship Program. Our foundation was founded by Mychal and Nina Wynn to provide college planning guidance and support for expanding college access and minimizing student loan debt for any student, but particularly for students from lower income families and those who will be the first in their family to attend college. In 2020, our partnership with Guilford County Schools (NC), focused on first generation, lower income, and refugee students received the 2020 Magna Award from the the National School Boards Association.

In the summer of 2014, we began our partnership with Florence School District 3 through a collaboration with Ms. Yvonne Scott, Director of College and Career Readiness, with the introduction of our College Planning Boot Camp for rising high school seniors. Students in the district’s first cohort were responsible for many firsts, including the district’s first Gates Millennium Scholar; first UMBC – Meyerhoff Scholar; and first student to be offered admission to Wake Forest University.

Most of the students participating in that first cohort have received their college degrees and are pursuing careers in such fields as the military, cybersecurity, healthcare, entrepreneurship, research, and education.

What makes our program unique is that our focus is not simply expanding college awareness but guiding students in developing a holistic set of strategies throughout their 7-year middle school through high school progression across such areas as choosing their high schools and programs; course taking; pursuing leadership and service; developing their gifts and talents; and setting goals to make themselves competitive applicants for being offered admission to selective colleges and being awarded competitive scholarships. While less than 2% of all students are attending college on a full scholarship (Source: ThinkImpact), the strategic planning engaged in by students in our program has resulted in unparalleled success with nearly 50% of participating students being offered full scholarships each year. In our Class of 2023, students were offered full scholarships to Benedict College, Brown University, Claflin University, Tuskegee University, University of South Carolina – Columbia, Vassar College, Williams College, Winthrop University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

Now, in our 7th year, our FSD3 program has expanded to not only provide college planning guidance, but to cover such topics as learning styles, personality types, multiple intelligences, temperament, mindset, and grit. However, like our college planning program, our goal is not to simply introduce students to these topics, but to guide students in developing strategies that are implemented through learning style, time management, and study skills plans.

Mikayla – Gates Millennium Scholar

Mikayla Hannah, a member of the 2015 Cohort, was the first or two Florence School District 3 Gates Millennium Scholars (Rebeca Pacheco ‘2016), both of whom participated in the cohort and received invaluable assistance in writing the 8 1,000-word essays required as part of the GMS applications.

Mikayla was also selected as the first student in South Carolina to be offered admission to the University of Maryland – Baltimore County’s prestigious Meyerhoff Scholar Program. Click onto the photograph to be linked to the WBMF News Story.

Damian – Northeastern University Torch Scholar

Damian, a member of the 2018 Cohort, was not only the first student in Florence School District 3 to be offered admission to Northeastern University, but received a full scholarship as a Northeastern University Torch Scholar. As a high school senior, Damian was selected as one of only 5 students in the country to receive the SallieMae $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship, profiled in the following video.

7-year Curriculum

Our College Planning Cohort Program is a 7-year curriculum-based program reflecting our 3 pillars of scholarship, leadership, and service designed around the “Essential Questions,” developed by the Coalition of Essential Schools (Coalition of Essential Schools):
  • From whose viewpoint are we seeing or reading or hearing? From what angle or perspective?
  • How do we know when we know? What’s the evidence, and how reliable is it?
  • How are things, events, or people connected to each other? What is the cause and what is the effect? How do they fit together?
  • What’s new and what’s old? Have we run across this idea before?
  • So what? Why does it matter? What does it all mean?

Through the process of deeply considering their current goals and long-term aspirations within a college planning context, students increase their critical thinking skills as they continuously ponder, “What is the right college for me? Where will I receive the most financial aid? How can I further develop my body of work?”

3-year Emerging Leaders Middle School Program: Our middle school college planning approach is to guided middle school students in planning their 7-year middle school through high school trajectory across the areas of academics, leadership, community service, and school/community engagement.
 
4-year College Planning Cohort Program: Our high school college planning approach is to inspire students to be intrinsically-motivated learners and leaders, and to maximize school and community-based opportunities to develop their gifts and talents, and to have a community impact through their leadership and service. Through our grade-level appropriate curriculum:
 
9th graders EXPLORE and ESTABLISH themselves for making a successful transition into high school through a yearlong focus on study skills and planning their high school trajectory across our 3 pillars of scholarship, leadership, and service.
 
10th graders REVISIT and RE-AFFIRM their successful approach to studying and learning and aligning scholarship pathways with their academics, leadership, service, and gifts and talents.
 
11th graders PLAN to pursue specific college and scholarship pathways.
 
12th graders IMPLEMENT THEIR PLANS in pursuing their affirmed college and scholarship pathways.

 

Requirements for participation:

  • A computer capable of accessing our website and sharing Google Documents
  • A reliable Internet connection for accessing our online curriculum and virtual session

Juliana and Jayla

Juliana, a member of the 2022 Cohort, was the Lake City Early College High School Class Valedictorian. Juliana (pictured on the left) became the first student in the history Florence School District 3 to offered admission to Williams College, the top ranked liberal arts college in the United States where less than 2 in 10 students are offered admission. Williams College also has the country’s most generous financial aid policy where not only was Juliana awarded a full scholarship but received an additional $10,000 per year to cover such expenses as books, travel, health insurance, and personal experiences.

While Juliana was participating in the cohort as a high school junior, Jayla, a high school sophomore was paying attention to the how Juliana was intentionally setting goals and developing a body of work to qualify for admission to the country’s most selective colleges with the most generous financial aid policies. Consequently, Jayla also intentionally set goals across the 3 pillars of scholarship, leadership, and service. 

In 2023, Jayla also graduated as the Lake City Early College High School Class Valedictorian and became the second student in the history of Florence School District 3 to be offered admission to Williams College. 

Without participating in the Cohort, I do not believe I would have had as many opportunities as I have had because of how unaware I was of anything pertaining to the college planning process. The moment I realized how significant my participation was in the program was when I was accepted to the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. I honestly thought  applying to that program was going to be a waste of time because I did not believe I was going to be accepted.

The Cohort, through Mr. and Mrs. Wynn, and my monthly discussion group, aided in building my self-confidence and being deserving of the opportunities I have had. As Mr. Wynn is fond of saying, my involvement in the Cohort helped me to become the best version of myself and, as cliché as it sounds, not give up. There were many times I wanted to give up or stop showing up for myself and the Cohort, but Mr. and Mrs. Wynn were always there to help me along the way and helped me to gain clarity in seeing the bigger picture. In the end, everything I have worked for has paid off and the Cohort has taught me to continue striving for excellence not just in school but in all areas of my life.

— Jayla Jones

Register Now…

Registration is now open to join the 2024-25 Florence School District 3 Cohort.

2024-25 Program Registration

Click here to download FSD3 Cohort Overview  

Click here to download an interactive flier