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Montgomery College Partners with Montgomery County Public Schools  to Facilitate Record Number of STAR Scholarships

Six hundred and sixty two outstanding African-American and black students from Montgomery County Public Schools are recipients of this year’s awards from the STAR (Stand Tall and Reach) Scholarship Foundation. The awards will be presented at the 11th Annual STAR-Montgomery Awards Luncheon Saturday, June 16 at the Universities at Shady Grove. The guest speaker is Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. US Airways commercial pilot, Captain Steven Holloway, will deliver the keynote address.

Awards of $1,000 or $250 went to 414 students, for a total of $216,000 in scholarship awards. An additional 248 students received certificates of merit. To date, this is the largest number of participants and the largest number of awardees. Scholarship recipients maintained a minimum 3.1 grade point average and participated in extracurricular activities such as community service or employment. Students submitted an application, essay, and recommendations, and the finalists were interviewed.

The STAR Scholarship Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation that was started and initially funded in 1992 by Paul Peck. STAR is all volunteer and over 98 percent of all money goes to scholarships. Mr. Peck has extended STAR into Washington DC; Oakland, CA; Richmond, VA; and Arlington County, VA.  As of July 2011, the STAR Scholarship Foundation has awarded over $1,877,000 in merit scholarships and merit awards.

STAR Scholarships are provided for both academic and vocational education. They are based on merit and the competition is intense. African-American and black high school students can compete annually for scholarships in the ninth, 10th, and 11th grades, giving them the potential to earn up to $3,000 toward their education, by winning the scholarship for three consecutive years. When a student wins a scholarship, the money is held in trust by the STAR Scholarship Foundation until the student enrolls in an accredited college or trade school. Program founder and benefactor Paul Peck, a local philanthropist who serves as chair and CEO of the STAR Scholarship Foundation, provided the original seed money for Montgomery County. Additional funding is generated by the STAR Montgomery Advisory Board. MCPS provides administrative assistance, along with Montgomery College.

“Education works,” Peck said. “It is the foundation of skills, self-esteem and self-confidence. I created STAR to demonstrate to African-American students that there is hope, the community cares, and studying pays.” In 2002, Mr. Peck expanded the STAR initiative by creating and funding STAR Merit Awards to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.

For more information about the STAR Scholarship awards program, please call Dr. Clarice Somersall of Montgomery College at 240-567-1702; e-mail

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