Evolve502 announces scholarships available through JCPS Class of 2026

Evolve502 announced today that its scholarship for eligible Jefferson County Public Schools students has been fully funded through the Class of 2026, this school year’s eighth grade students.

The announcement, made today at Johnson Traditional Middle School, comes after Evolve502 secured more than $20 million in donor support for scholarships. A total of $5 million was committed by the C.E. and S. Foundation, which nearly two years ago issued a fundraising challenge to the community to support this work.

“We’re so incredibly grateful to the C.E. & S. Foundation for being one of our earliest supporters and leading the community charge to promote our scholarship program and we appreciate their ongoing partnership in growing the educational attainment of our city,” said Evolve502 Executive Director Marland Cole. “Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in our fundraising efforts, meeting the Challenge from C. E. & S., and allows us to make the promise of free tuition to our first class of middle school students. We’re truly creating a college-going culture for our students.”

The Evolve502 scholarship allows eligible Jefferson County Public Schools students to begin postsecondary studies tuition-free at any Kentucky Community and Technical College or Simmons College of Kentucky, to pursue an associate degree or career credential, or take 60 hours of college credit. It is not a merit-based scholarship. Students receive the scholarship by meeting the eligibility requirements and completing required steps outlined at evolve502.org/scholarship.  Evolve502 covers tuition and fees after federal and state financial aid is applied.

In addition to the scholarship, students from households earning less than $40,000 annually are eligible for opportunity grants of $1,000 per semester (maximum $2,000 annually) to assist with non-tuition related costs of attending college such as books, housing, technology, transportation, etc.

C.E. and S. Foundation helped Evolve502 kick off its fundraising campaign to offer scholarships, recognizing a need to support students and create more equitable access to higher education.

“The Foundation put forth this challenge grant because, in the words of our co-founder David Jones, Sr, ‘We want to help, and we want friends to join us.’  Today, I’m grateful to the other foundations, the businesses, the individual donors, and the city of Louisville for joining us to support Evolve502 so that all eligible JCPS graduates will be able to afford postsecondary education,” said Tess McNair, executive director of the C E. and S. Foundation.

Recent contributors to Evolve502 include the James Graham Brown Foundation, Louisville Urban League, Jo H. Whittenberg Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville, the Sutherland Foundation, and Louisville Metro Government, which committed $3 million in funding for scholarships during the 21-22 budget approval process.

“The promise scholarship and opportunity grants are the culmination of years of building strong partners across government, education, business, community organizations and more to address educational attainment in our city so we can build the pool of educated workers needed to attract and retain businesses in our city. Metro Government is honored to have committed $3 million to help Evolve502 reach its goal,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Thank you to the entire Evolve502 team, Dr. Marty Pollio and his team at Jefferson County Public Schools, Mary Gwen Wheeler, Mary Nixon, Audwin Helton, Alice Houston, the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Metro Council and the countless generous donors who have contributed to this goal. We’ve answered tomorrow’s call with today’s announcement.”

Evolve502’s intent is to increase college access, support and success for JCPS students who want to attend college or get workforce certifications, including many of Louisville’s most vulnerable students – low-income, historically marginalized, first generation and others who have been left out or left behind. Cost, or perceived cost of post-secondary education, is cited as one of the top barriers that prevent young people from attending college.

Evolve502 is currently accepting scholarship applications from eligible students in the JCPS Class of 2022. Students can view eligibility and apply now through July 15 at evolve502.org/scholarship. Students are encouraged to complete the application early so staff can connect students with resources to complete college applications and the FAFSA. More than 500 students have applied since the application opened Oct. 1.

For questions about the scholarship, email scholarships@evolve502.org.