Cleveland Foundation College Now Top Scholars celebrated as highest-achieving CMSD seniors

Each year, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) highest-achieving first-generation and/or low-income students are selected to participate in the Cleveland Foundation College Now Scholars Program, which focuses on matching these students with their “best fit” postsecondary option. These students work with College Now advisors to determine their personal academic, financial, social, and environmental needs, and find the higher education institutions that will meet those needs and set the students up for success on their campuses.  

Since beginning in 2011, The Cleveland Foundation College Now Scholars Program has significantly increased not only the selectivity of schools that students enroll in, but also the amount of financial aid they are receiving to put toward their education. Along with the individualized and focused guidance, students in the program also benefit from guided college tours throughout their senior year. Members of the 2022-2023 cohort traveled throughout New York and visited Niagara University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  

This year’s Top Scholars will enroll at institutions such as Bard College, Cornell College, Marist College, Case Western Reserve University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, North Carolina A&T, Fashion Institute of Technology, and more. These academically gifted students have also received institutional full-ride scholarships and other highly selective scholarships to make their education affordable, through the resources and assistance provided by College Now. 

Gabriel Leonard, a Top Scholar and the 2023 Valedictorian of Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, was selected to receive the Gates Scholarship. This scholarship, established in 2017 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a highly competitive, last-dollar scholarship that will cover his tuition, room, board, and book fees. Gabriel was one of 51,000 applicants this academic year and was selected as one of the 750 recipients. He will matriculate to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall, where he will major in aeronautical science while simultaneously training to earn his commercial pilot’s license.  

In addition to the Gates Scholarship, outside scholarships received by the 2023 Top Scholars were issued by Posse, Choose Ohio First, Project HOPE, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Marion Motley, Burger King, Malone, and more. The 41 students who are off to college in the fall received nearly $750,000 in institutional aid and scholarships. 

College Now is grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for its support in developing and funding the Cleveland Foundation College Now Scholars Program and for helping the highest-achieving students receive the exposure and support they need to make their best-fit postsecondary decisions. Together, we look forward to seeing all the ways in which our Top Scholars will flourish in college and beyond!