Scholarship Fund invests in college access

December 19, 2023

John Huber-MacNealy

Former teacher John Huber-MacNealy felt crushed five years ago when he realized that one of his most promising students didn’t apply to college because she didn’t know how.

That moment, coupled with his subsequent recognition that there were many others just like her, became an inflection point for Huber-MacNealy that sparked an innovative effort to help students with college admissions and financial aid.

Huber-MacNealy created a College Access program that is being funded this year by the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund and offered to 95 students across four Charleston County schools – Baptist Hill High, North Charleston High, R.B. Stall High and West Ashley High.

“We wrongly assume that our brightest students have the knowledge to navigate an application process that has become increasingly complex, even for adults,” said Huber-MacNealy, who now works as a program director for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund. “This proactive approach offers both support and accountability to students at every step of their journey.”

The College Access program is the latest example of how the Scholarship strives to be more than financial support. The Scholarship offers resources and support to students both before and during their college experience, such as the College Ambassador program and an annual event for recipients to celebrate and network.

South Carolina high schools are required to help students create Individual Graduation Plans that guide students toward their education, career and employment goals. But Huber-MacNealy’s experience was that students needed even more support, particularly at high-poverty schools that are more focused on ensuring students graduate on time.

The College Access program is run by teachers at each school; they earn a stipend for their leadership. Teachers meet weekly with students and progress through a curriculum created and customized by Huber-MacNealy. The lessons evolve throughout the year, from evaluating colleges to identifying their desired schools and submitting college and federal aid applications.

“Our program leads are essential to the program’s success,” he said. “We are forging partnerships with some of the most talented educators in the district, and I’m proud that we are investing in these educators as well as our highest potential students.”

Huber-MacNealy plays an integral role in the program’s implementation. He meets weekly with teachers to ensure they understand the week’s lesson plans and tracks a host of metrics such as student satisfaction and the percentage who have submitted three or more applications.

The combination of the guidance of the College Access program plus the financial support of the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund should enable more students to be able to enroll in college, Huber-MacNealy said.

“This program is probably the single professional accomplishment of which I’m most proud,” he said.