TUPELO • Employees of Community Development Foundation member organizations now have more reason than ever to think about enrolling at the University of Mississippi’s Tupelo campus.
CDF and Ole Miss announced Friday a scholarship partnership that would provide additional financial aid for those individuals seeking to begin or continue their education.
“CDF has over 1,200 members all across the Northeast Mississippi region and we wanted a way to impact as many people as possible,” said UM-Tupelo executive director Derek Markley.
The scholarship will provide $500 a semester for up to four semesters for anyone who wants to pursue an undergraduate degree in Tupelo.
“We wanted something that would help small businesses,” Markley said. “Many times small businesses, of which we have many who employ a lot of people around here, just don’t have the additional means to provide a tuition benefit. With this, if they’re members of CDF, will allow them to provide an education benefit that their employees might only receive if they were in a larger corporation in the region.”
Markley said access and affordability were the key drivers in the partnership, which offers a potential discount of over 11 percent on undergraduate tuition.
“We have a number of degrees at the Tupelo campus that span from social work to criminal justice to elementary education or business and integrated marketing communications ... we have a number of paths that students can pursue. We want people to follow their interests to something they want to have as a career for many years.”
CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger said Markley had the idea to help Tupelo’s campus grow independently and wanted CDF to benefit from that as well.
“Studies tell us that 50 percent of students today have some type of part-time job to try and help pay for books and tuition,” Rumbarger said. “This is tremendous, especially for our small businesses here in Tupelo-Lee County.”
Rumbarger said that 80 percent of CDF members have less than 50 employees in their business, so this scholarship applies to a lot of individuals who can benefit from it.
“We need more people in the workforce that are skilled, and this is a great way to do that,” he said.