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AMERICUS (May 19, 2014)—The Wells Fargo Foundation recently awarded Georgia Southwestern State University with a grant of $1500, supporting the University’s Bridge Program.

Reda Rowell, GSW Foundation executive director, applied for the grant and said these and other funds will pay dividends in preparing students for college in this region.

“The Bridge Program is designed to ‘bridge’ the gap between high school and college by specifically addressing college readiness and related barriers to college completion,” Rowell explained. “Our local community, and the entire region of southwest Georgia, will benefit tremendously from a program intended to educate and graduate more students. We are grateful to the Wells Fargo Foundation for helping fund this effort.”

More than 50 percent of GSW students are first-generation college students. As a result, they do not have familial experience regarding the rigors of higher education. The Bridge Program is a comprehensive plan of action aligned with Georgia Southwestern’s strategic plan to improve retention, progression and graduation rates for this underserved population. The program is designed to assist and mentor local public school students, provide high school counselor awareness and continue GSW’s Sumter County mentoring partnership.

Taking place over the summer in a few different time periods, the program will introduce high school students to the financial aid process, allow them to experience life in the residence halls, sample college classes, explore academic and financial resources, and provide parental exposure to college life.

The Bridge Program is a community service initiative, with impact well beyond the GSW campus. It is also a component of Southwestern’s Complete College Georgia initiative, and GSW’s regional “East Meets West” collaboration on college readiness with East Georgia State College.

For additional information, please email

Caption—(L to r) Mike Oliver, Downtown Americus Branch manager; Sandy Saia, Tripp Street Branch manager; Reda Rowell, GSW Foundation executive director; and Jamie Campbell, Wells Fargo business associate.

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