BellSouth Foundation Grant to Help
More African American Students Graduate from MSC
MSC faculty members Don Brown and Marina Spears will coordinate activities the BellSouth Foundation grant is funding.
African American and other minority college students are statistically
less likely than other students to complete their studies and earn
a bachelor’s degree four to six years after enrolling, according
to a U.S. Department of Education study.
Concern over this trend motivated the BellSouth Foundation Inc.
to launch an initiative to help colleges and universities guide
minority students toward their four-year degrees. As part of a strategic
program called “Gaining Ground,” the Foundation recently
awarded a $105,000 grant to each of five institutions in the Southeast
that have programs aimed at keeping minorities in college.
The BellSouth Foundation awarded one of the grants to the Macon
State College Foundation, which plans to use the funds beginning
this fall to offer mentoring, tutoring and other support services
to minority students. Dr. Myra Jackson, an MSC psychology professor
with longtime involvement in minority student achievement, came
up with the project idea.
“BellSouth is pleased to be partnering with Macon State College
in this critical area of higher education needs,” said Terry
Smith, BellSouth regional manager. “Greater minority student
persistence and success are vital for this region if we want to
compete in a global economy. This program developed by Macon State
College and supported by the BellSouth Foundation will hopefully
impact this objective.”
Two MSC faculty members, Don Brown, an assistant professor of math,
and Marina Spears, an English instructor, will coordinate program
activities, aimed at intervening with more African American students
to make sure they stay in school and complete their bachelor’s
Here is a look at some of the specific activities Macon State is
developing using BellSouth grant funds:
• As African American students move into the upper-division
courses of Macon State’s bachelor’s degree programs,
provide more tutoring and technological resources focused on those
• Through an “Excel Program,” hire African American
students with grade point averages of 3.0 and higher to serve as
“Best Buddies/Peer Tutors” to other students, matching
declared majors as much as possible. In addition to tutoring, these
academically strong students will be a resource to students who
may still be bewildered by the “college system.” Students
in the Excel Program will also be given opportunities to participate
in book clubs, museum visits and social/
• The “Steering Program,” focused on students
with GPAs of 2.0 to 2.9, and the “Upward Flight” program,
for those with GPAs of 1.9 and lower, will provide tutoring and
workshops appropriate to the needs of each group. The goal will
be to move those students to the Excel Program.
• In the “Vanishing Student” program, coordinators
will contact students who disappear early in the semester to determine
their problems and find solutions.
All students in the various programs will be offered an opportunity
to spend a day with a Macon State faculty member as a means of increasing
student/faculty interaction and making students more comfortable
in a college environment.
Macon State’s goal is to have at least half of African American
students participating in the program to move from their sophomore
to junior years, which increases the likelihood they will graduate
with baccalaureate degrees within six years of beginning college.