What does Ohio State mean to Marion’s future?
On thousands of refrigerator doors across the city of Marion, you’ll find them hung like the trophies they are—the 8x10 certificates that carry The Ohio State University at Marion logo and represent student achievement and good attendance. Every student in the Marion City School District can earn $25 worth of tuition to Ohio State Marion for every quarter of their K-12 years in which their attendance is above 93 percent, and $50 in future tuition every quarter for hitting achievement goals. It’s called the “GoBuck$” program, started in the fall of 2010 by Ohio State Marion in partnership with the Marion City Schools.
When redeemed, the vouchers turn into real scholarships made possible by Marion business owner and philanthropist George Alber, who left $16 million to the Marion campus to fund scholarships for worthy Marion County students. Hundreds have benefited from the endowment he created in 1997 through traditional scholarships to Ohio State Marion. Now, through GoBuck$, those dollars are having a broad impact in this city where bachelor degree attainment hovers just between 10 and 12 percent and the poverty rate is over 20 percent.
Kids as young as six-years-old are earning a future college education. Every day as they pass by their home’s refrigerator door, they are reminded that college is possible—and that a piece of one of America’s best universities resides in their hometown.
After just two years, the GoBuck$ program is having an impact. At least two dozen Harding High School students redeemed their awards and are attending Ohio State Marion, including some of the top 20 students from the classes of 2011 and 2012. Marion City Schools has achieved the state benchmark for attendance, with 30,000 additional student days recorded. And hundreds of “Junior Buckeyes” are being encouraged to do well in school, attend college, and, eventually, become the educated citizens who allow Marion to thrive and survive in the decades ahead.