Most college students are all too familiar with loans that quickly turn into debt. $35,000 is the average amount facing recent U.S. graduates.
While in college, Jessica Johnson realized that her story was very different than that of her peers. Many of them were saddled with college debt, while she had received $200,000 in scholarships.
Jessica’s father told her to find a need in the community and address it in a unique way. Those words became inspiration to create something bigger than herself.
The Scholarship Academy (TSA), started in Jessica’s dorm room at Howard University with the belief that every student deserves an opportunity to pursue a debt-free degree, is a nonprofit organization that helps low income/first-generation families create 4-year college funding plans.
Through a first of its kind curriculum-based approach, TSA students learn how to negotiate financial aid packages, manage financial awards, create scholarship brag projects, and independently navigate the private scholarship market.
Jessica starts by asking students three simple questions: Who are you? What’s great about you? What have you done that’s worth someone’s investment?
From there, TSA helps students build their own brand and position themselves in their own superpowers. Students are shown how to do the work, instead of having the work done for them.
In conjunction with this venture, Jessica has also trained black college males to serve as Scholarship Ambassadors, using their own stories of scholarship success to empower black high school males to take ownership of the financial aid process.
Since its inception in 2006, TSA has helped students secure more than $35 million in private funding sources, reducing their debt by $14,000.
Jessica has spent the last decade serving as a family scholarship consultant, and traveling throughout the country conducting workshops for organizations such as The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, The U.S. Department of Labor, The New York Urban League and the National Center of Philanthropy.
The ultimate goal: use education as a means to close the equity gap and eliminate cycles of poverty in our nation’s poorest communities.