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ECE sets ‘ambitious’ goal that could add students at Milligan U.

Celebrating seven years this month of providing college scholarships to a demographic comprised of DREAM’ers and DACA students, Equal Chance for Education, which has several students enrolled currently at Milligan University, describes its goal for 2021 as “ambitious but achievable.”
Dr. Michael Spalding, founder and chairman of ECE, said the nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity plans to offer 100 college scholarships to qualified students next year. The new scholarship recipients, Spalding explained, would be added to the number of students already enrolled at schools that participate in the ECE program.
Spalding, a retired surgeon and urologist who lives in Nashville, said ECE’s mission is to provide an opportunity for students to attend college who are not eligible because of their legal status to receive government grants or government funded loans and who do not qualify for the Tennessee Promise program, Hope Scholarship or other state funding options including tuition discounts.
“When we (ECE) realized many outstanding Tennessee high school graduates have little opportunity to attend college because they are not U.S. citizens, we wanted to change this and I’m confident we have,” Spalding said.
He noted that ECE has produced 386 scholars including 87 graduates. According to Spalding, their academic records have been “amazing” as the program has maintained a retention rate of 98 percent, an average GPA of 3.43 and a five-year graduation rate greater than 95 percent.
ECE alumni include accountants, RNs, teachers, college administrators, hospital administrators, medical students, law students, engineers, students pursuing careers in architecture and cinematography, entrepreneurs, IT professionals and others. 
Spalding said it was necessary for ECE to enlist partner colleges because Tennessee requires DACA students to pay out-of-state tuition at state schools despite the fact that these students are residents of Tennessee. He said ECE’s partner schools have extended “the generosity” of discounting tuition fees in order to make their respective colleges affordable for ECE.
In order to cover the cost for ECE students next year the nonprofit will need to raise about $1.3 million. 
Reiterating his initial charge that ECE’s goal for 2021 will be challenging, Spalding said he and the organization’s all volunteer board along with ECE staffers will make every effort to be successful.
“What we are doing is important for so many reasons. This is not about politics or personal preferences. But it is about giving a young person an opportunity to be successful in life. Many will be doctors, teachers, or fill other professional roles and without our assistance they would likely never see their personal goals and potentials achieved,” Spalding added.
Schools that partner with ECE in Tennessee include Lipscomb, Trevecca, Martin Methodist, Middle Tennessee State University, East Tennessee State, Milligan, Maryville, Carson Newman, TN Wesleyan, Sewanee, Memphis University, Meharry Medical School, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Cumberland University, Belmont, Watkins, Aquinas, Vanderbilt, Christian Brothers University, and Fisk. Centre College in Kentucky is also an ECE partner school.