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Fund set up for youth in Rockdale

CONYERS — As a reward for their service, Rockdale County youth who lend a hand in the community have a chance at extra money to fund their college education.

The Rockdale Coalition of Children and Families recently introduced its first John K. Morgan Scholarship Fund. The nonprofit organization aims to promote the well-being of Rockdale children and families.

Since the award is in its inaugural year, Coalition organizers have not yet narrowed down a scholarship amount.

"With our capital that we have and with the economy, it's kind of rocky," Executive Director Michael Hutcheson said. "We haven't really attached a dollar amount to it yet."

Hutcheson estimated the scholarship may be around $1,000, but he could not say for certain.

The scholarship fund is being financed by a December 2009 donation made by the scholarship's namesake, John P. Morgan. Morgan was the Coalition's first board president in 1997 and CEO of Acuity Brands, Hutcheson said. Morgan made the undisclosed donation in honor of the retirement of Bill Hughey, who served as executive director from 1999 to 2009.

"The coalition is charged to really encourage community service," Hutcheson said. "In order to promote that message of community service in our community, we wanted to create this scholarship to perhaps be an inspiration to young students who are continuing their education to give back to the community."

From Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts to cleaning a park, Hutcheson said youth who apply can highlight "any kind of service done in the community to make a better place and help other people."

"We didn't put any kind of strings attached, as far as grades. The only criteria, basically, is someone who has been involved in community service," Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson expects the scholarship will especially become a big help to children from lower income families.

"We're really excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will present for individuals in our community that are actively involved," Hutcheson said. "We wanted to recognize their involvement in the community, and we wanted to support them in their education achievements."

Rockdale County has "a great number" of residents who are involved in their community, Hutcheson said.

Applications will be accepted now through Jan. 21, and scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 26 at the coalition's annual banquet.

For an application or more information, call 770-761-9244 or visit www.rockdalecoalition.org.