GCU scholarship program for brightest inner city students gets boost

Bob and Renee Parsons have donated a $500,000, five-year grant to Grand Canyon University (GCU) for scholarships for nearby inner city high school seniors who have high GPAs and high aspirations. 

The grant will fund full-tuition scholarships for “Parsons Scholars,” high school seniors who maintain a minimum 3.5 grade point average and demonstrate financial need. The grant from the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation is the largest single gift in the history of the Students Inspiring Students (SIS) scholarship program, school officials said. 

Bob and Renee Parsons

Bob Parsons, best known as the software technology wizard who founded GoDaddy, said he’s proud to support youth of limited means who “are willing to put in the hard work and earn a college degree.”

His partner in giving and life, Renee, said the scholarships will provide motivated students in underserved communities near the campus with tools they need not only to get a college degree but to excel in life.

“These programs are bringing hope and empowering students to follow their dreams,” she said. 

Students Inspiring Students targets nearby neighborhoods 

The $500,000, five-year grant from the Parsons Foundation will provide scholarships for high-performing but underserved students in the neighborhoods surrounding the university at 33rd Avenue and Camelback Road in the heart of west-central Phoenix.  

More than 90 percent of the SIS recipients are students of color, reflecting the demographics of the nearby communities. 

As part of the program, scholarship recipients must complete 100 or more hours of tasks  including college prep activities and tutoring other local K-12 students one-on-one in GCU’s Learning Lounge. The Learning Lounge provides free tutoring to any student who requests it. 

In the last six years, more than 4,500 students from 150 neighboring schools have taken advantage of this service, making nearly 60,000 visits to the Learning Lounge for 140,000 extra hours of study. 

Public-private partnership lifting up education in central-west Phoenix 

The annual SIS scholarship program is a public-private partnership in which the university, local businesses, donors, K-12 schools, and the scholarship program work to impact education in GCU’s diverse inner-city community. 

Bob and Renee Parsons’ involvement allows the university to get closer to the goal of having 800 students from the neighborhood involved in the SIS Scholarship Program every year, said University President Brian Mueller.

“That full-tuition scholarship allows high-achieving students an opportunity for a college education regardless of their socioeconomic status, changing the trajectory of their family for generations to come,” Mueller said.

Helping most needy regardless of who they are

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation was started by the couple in 2012 to offer support to nonprofit organizations successfully working to empower, educate, nurture and provide life-changing assistance to vulnerable populations and communities.

The Foundation’s giving is driven by the core belief that all people – regardless of race, religion, roots, economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity – deserve access to quality healthcare, education and a safe place to call home. 

To read more about the foundation and its work, visit: The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation. 

About Grand Canyon University:

Grand Canyon University, is a private Christian university founded in 1949, that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than 270 academic programs, emphases and certificates for both traditional undergraduate students and working professionals. The University’s curriculum emphasizes interaction with classmates, both in-person and online, and individual attention from instructors while fusing academic rigor with Christian values to help students find their purpose and become skilled, caring professionals.

For more information, visit gcu.edu.

Victoria Harker

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