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Mission of Hope giving rural Appalachian students a chance at college through scholarship program

The nonprofit has helped 70 graduates through its scholarship program, and plans to provide money to 57 more students in the fall.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Mission of Hope doesn't just give food and clothes to people in need throughout rural Appalachia. It also works to give them a chance at an education.

Officials with the nonprofit said they have helped 70 graduates through its scholarship program and plans to give money to 57 more students this fall. It started in 2009 when the nonprofit starting awarding scholarships for students at 13 high schools throughout rural Appalachia.

Students can use them to pursue an education at a 2-year, 4-year or vocational school. They are also renewable as long as the students stay in good standing at their chosen school.

Many of the graduates have had to endure hardships along the way to their degrees including family tragedies or personal challenges. Mission of Hope said that being able to achieve a degree can break the cycle of poverty in Appalachian families.

"Straight-A students, the guidance counselor will help them get a scholarship, but it's really the 'B' and 'C' students whose dreams die when they walk across the high school stage to get their diploma, and we wanted to change that," said Emmette Thompson, Mission of Hope's executive director.

Anyone who wants to donate and support the program can find a link on Mission of Hope's website. They can also mail a check to the nonprofit's office or call them at (865) 584-7571.