A new joint initiative between the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Aging launches today in Youngstown and allows area residents age 60 and older to earn free college tuition by volunteering in their community.
Through the GIVE back. GO forward. program, elders in the Youngstown region can “give back” to their community by volunteering at least 100 hours per year at any of three local organizations. In exchange, they will earn a three-credit-hour tuition waiver at either Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College that they can use themselves or gift to a student to help him or her “go forward.”
“Our elders are valued and respected resources that are in a position to contribute to their communities in ways that will impact the state for years to come,” said Ohio Department of Aging Director Bonnie K. Burman. “GIVE back. GO forward. will allow Ohio’s elder population to feel valued in their community while they experience the health benefits that come with volunteering and helping others. And by working with youth-centered programs, they will be able to pass their wisdom and experience on to a younger generation.”
In this first year of the program, volunteers have from August 3 through May 31, 2016 to earn at least 100 hours of volunteer service with the following:
• United Way Success By 6, a United Way pre-kindergarten summer readiness program that gives children the opportunity to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
• United Way Success After 6, a United Way program that focuses on academic success for hundreds of students in grades K-6 with the goal of improving their test scores, behavior, and motivation to stay in school.
• Inspiring Minds, which seeks to engage, inspire, and empower youth to reach their full potential through education and exposure to life-changing experiences. The program has a vision “to see every student graduate from high school, complete college or a vocational school, and become strong, successful members of our society.”
Once volunteers reach 100 hours, they will receive the tuition waiver. Volunteers may earn only one tuition waiver per year, and the waiver must be used within five years of earning it. Students receiving the tuition waiver as a gift may receive a waiver from multiple volunteers, but may utilize no more than two waivers (valued at six credit hours) per year.
“At a time when college affordability is increasingly important, GIVE back. GO forward. provides a way for students of any age to jump start their college education,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “Governor Kasich knows the value of giving back to your community and making higher education more affordable, and this program brings both of those things together. We are glad that the Youngstown region and its college presidents have embraced GIVE back. GO forward., and we are excited to see how this first year unfolds.”
GIVE back. GO forward. is open to 100 new volunteers in its first year. Youngstown State and Eastern Gateway each will provide 50 three-credit-hour tuition waivers for those volunteers. Director Burman and Chancellor Carey said ultimately, the idea is to continue GIVE back. GO forward. in Youngstown for years to come as well as replicate the program in other communities around Ohio. To learn more about GIVE back. GO forward., visit www.ohiohighered.org/gbgf.