New Diversity Grant Offers Full Ride to Low Income, Minority Freshman at Pace Academy

D. Aileen Dodd, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 17, 2010

Pace Academy of Atlanta is using star power to raise money for a new grant that will give low income and minority teens a free private school education.

Taye Diggs, star of ABC’s “Private Practice” and best-selling author Stedman Graham, the long-time companion of Oprah Winfrey, will be lending their fundraising clout to help Pace launch a new grant program.

The Diversity Scholars Fund was initiated by Pace’s diversity office to increase the numbers of academically strong low income and minority teens. The grants will be offered to freshmen who could not otherwise afford Pace’s $20,200 annual tuition for upper grades. Approximately 13 percent of Pace’s 1,014 students are minority.

“We have created a fund that guarantees that each year we will set aside money for students from [low] socio-economic and diverse backgrounds,” said Philip McAdoo, Pace’s diversity director. “With the recent economic hardships, we noticed that some of our financial aid was depleted [by current students]. We were kind of limited in what we could do for our new students.”

On Saturday, at a “red carpet” fundraiser, two round-trip tickets will be auctioned off to join Diggs in Hollywood for lunch on the set of “Private Practice.” The event will be held at 5 p.m. at Two Urban Licks restaurant in Atlanta. Admission is $200.

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Pace has already raised $150,000 for the new fund. McAdoo said the first fruits will be awarded to two students at Ron Clark Academy, giving them a full ride to Pace for four years until graduation. Pace and Ron Clark students have bonded in recent years through a cultural exchange program. More than half of Ron Clark’s 98 students live in households earning less than $28,000 a year.

“There is no way they could afford a private education at a school like Pace without assistance,” said Clark, founder of the Atlanta academy. “We are thrilled.”

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McAdoo said the grant will eventually be extended to students in Pace’s summer outreach and others who qualify in metro Atlanta. “We wanted to start small and grow.”

For information, visit www.paceacademy.org/diversity or call 404-262-1345 ext. 678

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