Andrew Tanielian, NBC 5 News
On Friday Jim Fulgham will be honored at the White House for his work helping students who have the odds stacked against them graduate high school and attend college.
An Arlington man is going to the White House to accept an honor on behalf of the Rotary Club of Arlington for helping students pay for college.
Jim Fulgham, who leaves for the nation's capital on Thursday, said it is a "tremendous honor" to accept the "Champion of Change" award.
The rotary club gives college scholarships to Webb Elementary School students who graduate from high school.
Every sixth-grader is given a certificate when they enter middle school. If the student graduates from high school, the rotary club gives him or her $750 per semester towards for college.
The club first adopted the school in 1991 and instituted the scholarship program to sixth-graders in 1994.
"The reason the Rotary Club of Arlington adopted Webb school is that it was the poorest school in Arlington and we wanted to give these students here an opportunity here to go to college," Fulgham said. "And because 94 percent of them are at the poverty level or below, the chances of them going to college are, were, pretty slim."
There are usually about 100 students in each sixth-grade class. The rotary club estimates it has given out 1,800 certificates since 1994.
"It's a kind of, 'Here, you have something to start with. Go ahead,'" said Heather Boggs, a Webb Elementary alum who said the program changed her life.
She is studying at the University of Texas at Arlington to be a math and science teacher to fourth- through eighth-graders.
"What they do for our community is amazing, and I am very thankful and forever in debt to them for that," Boggs said.
Derek Bassey was a Webb sixth-grader in 2001 and recently graduated from the University of North Texas. He just got a job as a research assistant with Tarrant County Juvenile Services, where he is applying his psychology degree.
"It just helped me to realize that I want to help kids out that could slide down the wrong path like I had the opportunity to slide down the wrong paths," Bassey said.