Belmont Expands Fully-Funded Four-Year ‘Bridges’ Degree Program for Metro Students

‘Bridges to Belmont’ scholarship opportunities provide potential $10 million+ investment in educating Nashville students

Student Larry Sheffield shares what the Bridges program has meant to him this semester.

Student Larry Sheffield shares what the Bridges program has meant to him this semester.

With an application deadline set for Dec. 16, Belmont University announced today that it is expanding its Bridges to Belmont scholarship program from 26 Nashville students in the 2013-14 charter class to 30 current high school seniors for next fall’s freshman class. With the selection of the next 30 Bridges scholars, the program will provide the Davidson County students–many of whom are first generation college students—unprecedented opportunities for higher education and future careers.

Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “At the heart of Belmont’s mission is our desire to provide a transformative education to our students in the hopes that they can then take their skills, passions and talents and make a difference in the world around them. I honestly can’t think of a better example of us living out that mission than what we are doing with the Bridges program. I’m thrilled to have these local students as part of the Belmont community.”

Launched in March 2013, Bridges to Belmont is a program designed to enroll high potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools who may not have previously been able to consider Belmont as an option. As a participant in the “Bridges to Belmont” program, all of the students’ expenses—tuition, room, board, required fees and books—that are not covered by state or federal grant resources are provided via scholarships from Belmont for four consecutive academic years, translating to a potential investment by Belmont that could exceed $10 million in the first four years of the program. Fisher added, “I have been thrilled by the response of donors who have become enthusiastic givers to support these kids.”

Metro Nashville Public Schools' Director Dr. Jesse Register thanks Belmont President Bob Fisher for the Bridges program.

Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Director Dr. Jesse Register thanks Belmont President Bob Fisher for the Bridges program.

Enrollment eligibility for Bridges scholars then follows the standard satisfactory academic progress expectations of all students.

“The Bridges to Belmont program is a life-changing opportunity for our students,” said Metro Schools’ Director Dr. Jesse Register. “They know with hard work, they can achieve their dream of a college education. It is an investment in their future and the community, and we appreciate everyone at Belmont who has worked to develop and expand this program.”

In addition, the Bridges program creates a learning and service environment to empower students’ personal passion to meet the needs of the world. The first class of 26 Bridge students lived and worked on campus last summer while attending an intensive institute to prepare them for a successful transition in the college environment.

Dr. René Rochester, director of the Bridges to Belmont program, added, “I remember standing in the back of the room when Dr. Fisher announced the Bridges to Belmont initiative. I listened carefully to his words and thought, ‘WOW! What a bold declaration of service.’ I have worked in urban outreach and education for a long time, and know that with a bold declaration there must be the hard work of implementation… This has been a great opportunity not only for the students, but for the staff, faculty and administration of Belmont. We all have been learning about serving young adults who come with unlimited potential and who need assistance in crossing the cultural, collegiate bridge into a new community. We are committed to teach to and through the students’ personal and cultural strengths, holding high academic expectations and offering appropriate support.”

The pilot program provided scholarships to students from Maplewood and Stratford High Schools, and in the second year, the program is expanding to include students at Whites Creek and Pearl Cohn High Schools. Preferred candidates for the program are nominated by the high schools’ leadership and are expected to be taking a college prep curriculum with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher in core academic courses. Applicants should also have demonstrated leadership experiences at their current schools, provide strong recommendations regarding academic motivation and personal character and demonstrate significant financial need.

Bridges to Belmont reflects a deliberate effort on the part of Belmont’s administration to enhance the cultural and ethnic diversity within the campus community while also continuing efforts to provide higher education to students in Davidson County. Belmont senior leaders along with University enrollment and academic officers have met with MNPS principals and admission counselors during the past year to establish the foundations for the program and to educate students about the opportunities and requirements. The program is also another step toward Belmont’s Vision 2015 goal to establish “engagement with and service to the Nashville community that is unmatched by any other institution of higher education.”

About Metro Nashville Public Schools
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is the nation’s 42nd largest district, preparing more than 83,000 students to excel in higher education, work and life with the goal of being the first choice for Nashville’s families. Metro Schools is committed to providing a high quality education to every student and currently ranks in the top 27 percent of districts in the state for academic performance. The governing body for Metro Schools is the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, a nine-member elected body. For more information, visit www.mnps.org.


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About Belmont University

Ranked No. 7 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the sixth consecutive year as one of the top “Up-and-Comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of more than 6,900 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs, a fact made evident in the University’s hometown, Nashville, where students, faculty and staff served more than 243,000 hours of community service (valued at more than $5 million) during 2012. With more than 80 areas of undergraduate study, 22 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon.
For more information visit www.belmont.edu