Non-profit helps Triad residents go back to college

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Completing your college degree can be a difficult task. It can also be one of the most fulfilling things you can do for yourself. Degrees Matter is a non-profit organization based in Greensboro that is working to offer support to the more than 67,000 Triad residents who have started college but never graduated. One of its supporting partners is the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

“It's been a dream. I have had this re-occurring dream of going back to school. I have just never actually been able to just stop and focus on achieving it," said Gregory Matthews of Greensboro.

Now, Matthews’ dream is coming true, thanks to Degrees Matter.

“It's been one of the better decisions I have ever made. They have vision and they were able to see beyond the temporal," said Matthews. "There is a segment of the community that exists that I think is being underutilized. There is an asset there that no one really seemed to care about.  So they reignited my ambition."

Dr. Jason Caldwell works with prospective students, like Matthews, who need some assistance getting re-enrolled.  “Gregory is one of our ‘come-backers,’ which is what we call our returning adult students.  So we have been working on getting his transcripts from the schools he previously attended. Then looking at what is the best fit for him at this point so that he can finish out his degree and then go on and do what he so desires with his career,” said Caldwell.

After high school, Matthews spent three years in college.  Now, at 55, he cannot wait to finish what he started. “Really looking forward to being able to be an instrumental part in the community and being able help to strengthen the community,” said Matthews.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is proud to support Degrees Matter.  “It's a great partnership between the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Opportunity Greensboro, which is an initiative of Action Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  It's a way for us to kind of make a major statement as a community.  If we want a quality workforce, we have to work with our community in getting degrees,” said Walker Sanders, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

According to Caldwell, the non-profit goes on scholarship searches to see if there are additional scholarships or grants for students just because Degrees Matter doesn't offer them directly.

“We don't want that to become a further barrier for them, which for a lot of our students, finances were probably the number one cause for them stopping.”

For students like Matthews, a degree really does matter. “It really taps into something that I have been missing,” said Matthews.

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