As Jackson County continues to see an increase in economic growth, education has become a key to the county’s workforce success.

Each year, Jackson County Community Outreach hosts its annual Achievement Awards Banquet with the mission to “support education and community involvement to help its neighbors improve their lives.”

This year the organization celebrated its 21st annual banquet “Skillset Training – A Key to Economic Growth” at the Jefferson Civic Center with 400 guests in attendance.

Each year through an application and interview process in early spring the organization searches for students with the “right mix of attributes” to award its scholarships.

“We provide these scholarships for both seniors that are going to technical college, or traditional college that are looking to major in areas that we feel are the most critical to the workforce needs of Jackson County, Georgia,” says Jim Scott, president of JCCO. “Jackson County is a vibrant and diverse growing county that the workforce produced has not always matched up with the need. There are many industries and large-scale operations moving to the area.”

JCCO hopes to reverse this trend by continuing to host its achievement awards banquet along with its yearly Christmas banquet to support and raise the funds necessary to provide this opportunity to deserving high school graduates.

This year the non-profit organization raised an estimated $25,000 during the banquet which awarded 23 Jackson County graduates from four high schools receiving $28,000 in scholarship awards.

The program has come a long way since 1998 when it awarded a single scholarship in the amount of $1,000. The organization is proud for the $246,500 in scholarship awards given to 230 high school and GED graduates since that time.

In addition to its traditional college scholarships, JCCO began a technical college industrial scholarship program in 2016 where they began awarding $2,000 of funds to students that wanted to pursue training in specific needed areas at an accredited technical school.

The program also offers multiple scholarships per year to the “at risk” students who have the passion and commitment to change their life for the better. JCCO is a member of the North Georgia Community Foundation non-profit network and the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s award recipients include Annabelle Zekeri, James H. Scott Visionary Scholarship of $2,500 and Andrew Puckett, Tom Lewis Leadership Scholarship of $1,500. Three Technical College Industrial Scholarships with a value of $2,000 each were awarded to Andre Tessier, Amarani Espino and Hanna Wilson. The JCCO’s Traditional College Scholarships of $1,000 were granted to: Sadie Robinson, Trista Morris, Shatoya Johnson, Jeanece Smith, Heaven Roebuck, Luke Harrison, Nigeria Brown, Jaci Benson, Cody Whitlock, Lauren Barrett, Jaycie Ponce, Erick Rodriquez, Adria Phillips, Wright Wilson, Mattie Davis, Maria Arce, Elizabeth Wimbish and Jose Miranda-Hernandez.

During the program a raffle was held for a grill worth $465 that was donated by The Home Depot. Tarla Varnum Atwell and Quinton Ford, past scholarship recipients, also gave their testimony and encouragement to this year’s selected recipients at the ceremony.

Several community officials were also recognized for their continued support and involvement in the community. Awards were given to: Janis Mangum, Jackson County Sheriff, Community Leadership Award for excellence in leadership as demonstrated by outstanding community and public service in Jackson County; April Sorrow, Unsung Hero Award in recognition of dedicated community service; Annabelle Zekeri, Young Adult Award in recognition of outstanding community and school service and Leanna Bryant, CNA Honor Award in appreciation for dedicated and compassionate caregiving.

Keynote speaker, Governor Nathan Deal, also received an ‘Award for Excellence’ in deep appreciation for tireless, devoted and persistent public service to enhance the economic well-being of the people of Georgia. Gov. Deal spoke on the need to improve technical education participation in Jackson County as “the type of jobs coming to Northeast Georgia will require this technical education.”

JCCO hopes to continue to provide its support to the workforce graduating from area schools that will meet the needs of the jobs coming to Jackson County presently and in the future as students become contributing members of the community.

For more information on JCCO and how to apply for its scholarship program, visit http://jccoscholarships.org. To view past recipient success stories, visit the “Our Legacy” tab on the website.

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