FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Fifteen students at Forsyth Central High School and another 16 students at North Forsyth High School met last month for a group interview with members of the board of directors for local nonprofit Rewarding Minds.
With an average grade point average of 3.6, these students are academically high achievers, even though they lack one important tool — personal access to technology.
But that all changed after the interview.
Each of the 31 students received a new Microsoft Surface tablet, along with a case. The tablets were installed with Microsoft Office and came with a new printer, accidental protection and virus protection software.
Jack Schiff, who launched Rewarding Minds in 2011, said the organization is doing better than he had planned.
“We expected to do 50 students in three years, and we’ve more than doubled our goal,” Schiff said. “It’s far exceeding the school’s openness to work with us.”
There’s a need to equip students with technology they can’t afford on their own, Schiff said.
There are an estimated 370 students who are juniors and seniors who qualify for the Rewarding Minds program, which plans to gift 45 computers locally this school year.
“We need to raise more money to help more students,” Schiff said.
At a Dec. 7 basketball game between North Forsyth and Forsyth Central, two additional students were recognized during halftime with the tablets and printers.
“It is so exciting to listen to students talk about how having this technology affects them and their success,” said North Forsyth Principal Dr. Beth Hebert. “In today’s educational world, the use of technology is pivotal to a student’s success in school. These are exceptional students and having access to this technology levels the playing field for them as they complete work in high school and later when they enter college.”
The partnership with the Forsyth School System is growing.
“They come to us through self-initiation, via a parent or another student aware of the program, or a counselor who knows their academic need and they get recommended,” Schiff said.
Schiff was named the 2013 “Friend of the Year” for his contribution to local high schools.
Forsyth Central’s DECA students have also helped the nonprofit with its marketing program, crafting messages to attract donors and encourage young people to apply.
In addition to giving to groups of students, the Forsyth County-based Rewarding Minds awards one computer per month for a high achiever in the school district and hopes to expand the program nationally.
Six students at North Mecklenburg High School, north of Charlotte, N.C., were awarded in the past two years.
“Our donor poll is getting bigger every year,” Schiff said. “We are able to fund more and more students.”
Visit www.rewardingminds.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to donate to the organization.