Grand Canyon University surprised 50 high school seniors from Phoenix and Glendale with full-tuition scholarships.

The Students Inspiring Students (SIS) Full-Tuition Scholarship is designed to increase educational opportunities for students with limited financial means. The SIS Scholarship is a collaboration among GCU, the Grand Canyon UniversityScholarship Foundation, local high schools and business and philanthropic leaders.

Each year, the University awards full-tuition scholarships to students from inner-city high schools who maintain a minimum of 3.5 grade point average, demonstrate financial need, and received 100 or more hours of academic assistance at GCU’s Learning Lounge, a free after-school tutoring and mentoring program.

When SIS scholarship winners enter GCU next fall, they will pay it forward as university students and provide 100 hours per year of mentoring and academic support at a Learning Lounge site to assist the next group of K-12 students.

“We’re investing in human capital,” said Dr. Joe Veres, GCU’s Vice President of Student Success. “This scholarship program is in its fourth year at the university and it works. It is rewarding to see these students spend time at the Learning Lounge, get awarded the scholarship and thrive on campus. They are bright, remarkable young men and women that just need a financial boost in order to go to college.”

The average GPA of this year’s 50 SIS scholarship recipients, who come from 15 different greater-Phoenix high schools, is 4.1. In addition to high academic achievement, the recipients also must receive strong recommendations from GCU Learning Lounge Leads (Learning Advocates).

GCU’s president, Brian Mueller said he hopes to attract more donors to the SIS program in order to expand the number of scholarship recipients. GCU matches all donations to the scholarship program.

“The best part of this program is that, as a donor, you’re not just investing in a younger person who now has an opportunity to get a college education and make a better future for himself or herself,” Mueller said. “That in itself is inspiring enough. But that scholarship recipient is going to, in turn, impact hundreds more high school students by serving in the Learning Lounge as a GCU student. That lifts up an entire community. Our goal is to create an education-minded inner-city community that people want to be part of.

“The impact this program is having in our state is truly transformational and could be become a model that will be emulated nationally.”