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The Dr. Doretha Pressey Southern Scholars Initiative is laser focused on leveling the academic playing field for African American youth from low-income communities throughout the Rural South. Currently, these students' enrollment and college completion rates are nearly 20% lower than the national average. Our goal is to eradicate this pervasive disparity by providing our scholars with the financial, social, and academic support they need to graduate from college on time, succeed in their chosen careers, and give back to those in need.


The Southern Scholars Initiative's mission  is to honor Dr. Pressey’s legacy of Education, Determination, and Generosity by creating college access, equity, and success for students of color from communities throughout the rural South.


We offer our scholars a comprehensive array of programs and services designed to help them get into college, graduate on time, achieve success and satisfaction in their careers, and give back to those in need.  These programs include: Scholarships, College Coaching, Professional Networking and Mentorship, Service, and Travel Opportunities.


Southern Scholars was launched in 2019 in Dr. Pressey's hometown, Denmark, SC.   In the coming years we plan to expand  our programs and services to include Denmark's neighboring  communities, including those throughout the lower Savannah region. Ultimately, we plan to recruit and support deserving scholars of color from low-income, rural communities throughout the Southeastern United States.

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Why We Do What We Do

The Southern Scholars Initiative launched with the rollout of the Dr. Doretha Pressey Academic  Scholarship and the Mrs. Clara Mae Coleman Technical Award at Dr. Pressey's high school alma mater, Denmark Olar High School.  Listen as the Pressey family discusses Dr. Pressey's life, work, and lasting impact.

2019 Dr. Doretha Pressey Scholarship Rollout at Denmark-Olar High School - The Pressey Family
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Scholarship Rollout
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