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Citizen Scholars Institute

The Citizen Scholars Institute provides youth, through mentoring and program support, with life skills, knowledge, and character development needed to obtain college scholarships, complete college, and become contributing citizens.

This is accomplished through a comprehensive approach that includes four programs: the Legacy Model, College and Career Ready, STEM Science on the Move, and Wofford Near-Peer Mentoring.


Services and activities include: mentoring, research-based tutoring, workshops (etiquette, communication skills, study skills, time management, etc.), early college preparation, summer enrichment opportunities, behavior intervention, college tours, access to scholarships, parent engagement, college application preparation, SAT/ACT prep, interviewing skills, job shadowing, internships, and more.

Legacy Model

For the first twenty years of the Citizen Scholars program, fifth grade students within a school district were identified on a rotating basis; only one school district per year was able to nominate students. Once nominated, the candidates were selected by Citizen Scholar program staff and volunteers. Each Scholar was assigned a mentor beginning in the sixth grade and continuing through high school graduation. Upon graduation from high school, each Scholar, was eligible for scholarships in the total amount of $10, 500 (last dollar need met) while completing college. New Scholars have not been added to the Legacy Model since 2015.

College and Career Ready Model

Scholars in each grade work together as a cohort within their district one Saturday per month with two trained facilitators. Curricula are written by Citizen Scholars Institute staff and are consistent throughout the county. Care is taken to provide instructional strategies aligned with developing characteristics given in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. Each cohort has a team of mentors. Scholars are mentored from the sixth grade through college graduation.


College Access Network is a collaboration between Wofford College and Citizen Scholars.  In Scholars’ tenth grade year of high school, they are assigned a Wofford College student who serves as a “near-peer” mentor until graduation from high school.

College Persistence Model

Spartanburg School District Seven early college graduates (students who earn an associate in arts degree from Spartanburg Community College while in high school) are provided mentoring services by Citizen Scholars staff throughout their four-year college experience.

Citizen Scholars Institute


A special initiative of The Spartanburg County Foundation, the Citizen Scholars Program was founded in 1996. The original program connected public school students in all seven school districts with mentors who provided them with knowledge, encouragement, and support for seven years beginning in grade six and continuing through high school graduation. Students participate in monthly educational workshops, receive tutoring as needed, learn important life skills, and engage in cultural enrichment.

In 2016, the Program became the Citizen Scholars Institute and was reformatted to expand its reach and impact. With the full support of all seven school district superintendents, sixth graders from every district are identified each year as Scholars on a continuing basis. Additionally, Scholars are mentored through college graduation and are engaged in an active alumni association.

Currently, 208 Scholars are being served; 117 are in grades six through twelve; 24 are college students; and 65 are members of the alumni association with many of them serving as mentors. Within six years, there could be as many as 1,225 Citizen Scholars representing all seven school districts.

More Information

Along with funding, the Citizen Scholars Institute is always looking for volunteers to serve as advisors, mentors, and chaperones. For more information, please contact:

Dr. Susan Little – Executive Director at (864) 419.5663
Mrs. Amy C. Vernon – Assistant Director at (864) 978.2315
Mrs. Terra Bell – Program Coordinator at (864) 804.7077

or visit our website,