Keys to development tie to education

Published 1:34 pm Friday, December 23, 2011


Guest Columnist

If there are two organizations that tie together, it is the Rural Development Council, which the governor recently appointed me to, and Bainbridge College.

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Southwest Georgia has been in a recession for a long, long, long time. It has the highest poverty rate in the state, presently at 25.3 percent. Its child poverty rate is 35.9 percent. Additionally, the unemployment rate for Decatur County and the five Georgia counties surrounding it stands at 10.9 percent, whereas the state rate is 10.2 percent.

If there is one key that can open this area’s doors to a brighter future, it is the educational offerings of Bainbridge College and the BC Foundation having the means to assist its students with the necessary funds to continue their education.

I grew up on a farm, and I wanted to become a doctor. But because of timing and the unavailability of money, I pursued other avenues. With the help of the Lord and a bit of a struggle, I have been fairly successful. However, those tales of my time are not always true today. The more education you have, the more likely you will be employed and be successful. And the more educated the residents of Decatur County and its surrounding counties become, the more likely it will develop out of poverty and high unemployment.

If we, as successful businessmen and residents, are not interested enough in our community to want to see our youngsters do more than walk the streets, the next generation is going to be in serious trouble. We are going to be in serious trouble because we are not going to have a lot to look forward to.

The college is a key. Scholarships are a key to that. It all ties together.

I have been on the Bainbridge College Foundation for more than 10 years, and most of those years I have been chairman of the scholarship committee. I have seen how a scholarship can change the future of a student. I have seen how a path for a brighter future grew brighter with the assistance from a $500 scholarship. And I have seen where the foundation had only $50,000 in the bank several years ago to the present portfolio of approximately $750,000.

Bainbridge College is a bargain, being named to the U.S. Department of Education’s Top 100 List for lowest net cost of attendance, and it is the fastest growing college in the University System of Georgia. The foundation is in the middle of a campaign to raise funds for scholarships.

An important part of this campaign is that helping a student with a scholarship doesn’t take the amount of a fully endowed scholarship. You can start a scholarship, or add to an existing scholarship with as little as $500. You can honor someone or give in memory of someone. You don’t have to have a lot of money to start a scholarship. Your investment, regardless of the amount, will go a long way to enhance the life of a deserving student.

In the long run, you will be making an investment in the future of Decatur County and Southwest Georgia.

Dewey Robinson, a Bainbridge businessman, has served on the Bainbridge College Foundation for more than 10 years as its scholarship committee chairman. Questions about the foundation can be directed to Dale Fuller, the BC director of advancement, at, or by calling (229) 243-6436.