In 1996, Jim Simeon (former superintendent) and Tim Timberlake (a local business owner) founded Project Potential to expand educational and career opportunities for low-income students at Lexington Senior High School. At the time, the furniture industry was starting to cut jobs in our community, leaving many families feeling scared and uncertain about the future. To address this growing sense of despair, Mr. Simeon and Mr. Timberlake raised funds to provide scholarships for students to continue their education beyond high school and prepare for new career paths. Through Project Potential, they also offered participants and their families much needed hope for the future.
Twenty –seven years later, we are still offering hope to students in our school system where more than ninety percent quality for free and reduced lunch and in our city where one in four people live below the federal poverty line. To help participants escape a persistent cycle of economic disadvantage, we provide each of them with a comprehensive level of support to ensure their success in high school and in post-secondary education. We have also continued to provide last dollar scholarships for participants who graduate from Lexington Senior High School and enroll in a 2- or 4-year college or university, trade school, or professional certificate program.
While Lexington struggled for decades to overcome the loss of manufacturing, we now have reason to be hopeful in our community. North Carolina’s economy is continuing to grow and produce job opportunities for workers across the state and new companies are locating their operations in Lexington and Davidson County. We are so excited about this economic growth and want to make sure our participants are qualified for jobs that pay living wages and offer economic mobility. We also want to make sure that employers throughout our community have access to workers who are prepared to meet the needs of their companies now and for years to come.
At the start of the pandemic, Project Potential’s most recent graduates (Class of 2023) were in their first year of high school. They were just finishing their third grading period when the Lexington City School System suddenly closed all buildings and transitioned to online learning. In the blink of an eye, school at our students knew it was turned upside down and they were left to adjust as best they could.
Nationwide, low-income schools like ours encountered numerous challenges with online education. Many families in Lexington did not have access to the internet or laptops their children needed for virtual school. In addition, significant numbers of parents were considered “essential workers: during the pandemic and were unable to ber present with their children during school hours. This required older students like ours to take responsibility for the education of their younger siblings as well as their own. Parents working outside the home were also much more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus, putting themselves and their family members, and even the death of loved ones.
Despite facing unprecedented challenges, our students have continued to find ways to overcome obstacles. Throughout high school, students in the Class of 2023 have worked closely with Chevon Burton, our Program Director to secure $2,933,123 in outside scholarships, financial aid, and grants to continue their education. Ten of our participants graduated from Lexington Senior High School with professional certificates from Davie Davidson Community College and two graduated with associate degrees.
Tutoring – Project Potential provides tutoring to help our students navigate college preparatory courses in high school and better prepare themselves for post-secondary education. We also provide tutoring to address gaps in education, which has been especially important in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Study Skills Instruction – Throughout high school, Project Potential provides students with programs to help them develop the effective study skills (and habits) they will need to succeed in high school and in post-secondary education.
Test Prep – Project Potential provides programs that prepare students for college entrance exams (ACT & SAT).
Case Management – Throughout high school Project Potential provides students and their families with case management services to address issues related to food insecurity, homelessness, mental health challenges, medical conditions and more.
Mentoring – During their senior year, Project Potential students receive mentoring from a college educated adult who can help them navigate the college application process and the enrollment process.
Personal Growth Opportunities – Project Potential provides programs that help students explore and prepare for future career opportunities.
College Visits – Throughout high school we expose students to a wide variety of college campuses throughout North Carolina to help them determine what type of post-secondary education is best for them. This includes visits to public and private colleges and universities, small and large campuses, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, community colleges and trade schools.
College Application Support – Students receive assistance with and the submission of college applications.
Scholarship Assistance – Project Potential helps students identify and apply for scholarships and grants that will help reduce the cost of tuition and future debt.
Essay Writing Support – Project Potential provides essay writing workshops and individual support to ensure students submit high quality college and scholarship applications.
Financial Aid (FAFSA) Support – Project Potential helps students (and their families) complete financial aid applications and navigate financial aid award packages.
Dorm Room Supplies – Project Potential helps students and their families with dorm room supplies.
Project Potential Scholarships
Since Project Potential’s inception in 1996, we have awarded more than 750 scholarships. Each student selected for Project Potential is promised a last dollar scholarship that can be used for expenses not covered by financial aid (enrollment deposits, housing deposits, and books). At an accredited college or university. All Project Potential Scholarships have been fully funded by individual and group donations.
Project Potential’s student support programs are funded by donations, grants, in-kind contributions from the Lexington City Schools System and the United Way of Davidson County.
100% of Project Potential students graduate from high school.
100% of Project Potential students are accepted to a 2- and 4- year college or university, trade school, or apprenticeship program.
Doctorate Level - $10,000
Provides scholarships for two LSHS students & all services to help students gain access to postsecondary education
Recognition as a Doctorate Level Sponsor at all Project Potential events and on our website
Mater’s Level - $5,000
Provides a scholarship for one LSHS student & all services to help students gain access to post-secondary education
Recognition as a Master's Level Sponsor at all Project Potential events and on our website
Bachelor’s Level - $3,500
Provides a scholarship for one LSHS student
Recognition as a Bachelor’s Level Sponsor at all Project Potential events and on our website
Community Partner - $500 - $2,000
Provides services to provide students with services to help them gain access to post-secondary education
Recognition as a Community Partner Sponsor at all Project Potential events and on our website
General Donation to Support our Programs -
All donations are used to support programs that help low-income students gain access to post-secondary education
Donations can be mailed to:
PO Box 1823
Lexington, NC 27293
Donations can be made online using button below.
All Donations are Tax Deductible
Donations of securities can be made through the Foundation for the Carolinas
For more information contact: Deborah Banks, Finance Specialist at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (704) 973-4577