Sandy Springs couple starts college scholarship fund to help students in need

Credit: Courtesy David Couchman

Credit: Courtesy David Couchman

A Sandy Springs couple has created a scholarship fund to help underserved students complete their college education.

David and Melanie Couchman, longtime supporters of local nonprofits, started the “Next Step to Success” scholarship through their Couchman Noble Foundation to benefit students who grew up attending Los Ninos Primero educational center.

The Couchman Noble Foundation has given five scholarship awards so far this year totaling $21,000, a statement said. Each scholarship ranges from $2,000-$5,000.

“We want to somehow find the youth in our city who have worked hard to get where they are and give them an additional boost,” David Couchman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Couchman said the foundation is looking to extend its Next Step scholarship program to other local nonprofits that serve minority populations next year.

This year, the Couchman Noble scholarship will provide more tuition support to recipients who have already received one year of college funding through Los Ninos Primero educational center, Couchman said. Since 2001, Los Ninos has offered educational support to Latino students starting in preschool through Saturday classes, summer camp and other activities.

Los Ninos has a separate scholarship named after the center’s co-founder Martha Barrios Mead but that scholarship is usually awarded only to students in their first year of college.

Scholarship recipients between the two programs are students who grew up participating in Los Ninos programs or returned as teenagers to volunteer during summer camp, said Charles Gray, manager of the Martha Barrios Mead scholarship fund.

Gray said the Couchman’s support is a “phenomenal complement” to the Mead scholarship.

“It allows us to extend scholarships to recipients beyond their freshman year,” Gray said. “...The first year is one thing with a lot of opportunities for scholarships but when you get to the sophomore, junior and senior year it’s a lot tougher.”

The Mead scholarship has granted six awards this year totaling $30,000, according to the Couchman Noble Foundation statement. Those six recipients in addition to the five receiving the Couchman Noble scholarship will be recognized during a formal event at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center on Oct. 1.