Tacoma-based Palmer Scholars program gets ready to shift focus to high school juniors

A 32-year-old Tacoma-based institution that has been supporting low-income students of color is making a change to better guide students in their quest for a college education.

Since 1983, the R. Merle Palmer Minority Scholarship Foundation, founded by a Tacoma businessman, has been providing financial support and ongoing mentoring throughout the college years to Pierce County students.

Historically, the majority of Palmer Scholars have been selected as high school seniors, with a few who join the program after starting college.

Beginning next school year, the program will select Palmer Scholars from both high school juniors and seniors, and the following year, only high school juniors will be selected to join the program. The goal is to help high school students begin their transition to college preparation earlier so they can be more successful.

Meanwhile, the program continues to honor local students. The class of 2015 Palmer Scholars include 28 students, almost all first-generation college students. Each receives a scholarship of up to $5,000 a year, renewable for up to five years.

This year’s scholars and their schools are:

Jalen Robinson-Mcclure and Khyree Watson, Bellarmine; Eli Gonzalez Perez, India Owens, Victoria Ann Tirado, Clover Park; Amoje Moody, Franklin Pierce; Jose Pacio, Harrison Prep; Jalon Hollingsworth, Jamie Rollins, Justin Tran, Foss; Devin Snow, Eunissa Satterwhite, Fernanda Venegas, Jamyrick Fontenot, Jerald Chandler, Miriam Cabrera, Ricardo Ramirez-Rubio, Sasheta Green, Lincoln; Elizabeth Manning, Karen Davila, Kevin Castellanos, Ronalei Taula, Savanna Harper, Victoria Mao, Mount Tahoma; Luis Servin SAMI; Chanelle Peoples, Esperanza Sarmiento, Valeria Sanchez-Jimenez, Stadium.