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Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars

Mr. Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, has generously committed $8 million to Palm Beach State College, introducing an essential initiative that helps prepare underserved students at Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill High Schools in West Palm Beach with pathways to postsecondary education and career credentials, bolstering Palm Beach County’s future workforce. The gift comes to the Foundation for Palm Beach State College through Related Southeast’s newly formed non-profit, Related Together, a private grant making foundation to drive economic mobility in West Palm Beach’s northwest neighborhoods, including Historic Northwest, Pleasant City and Coleman Park.


Over the next six years, Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars at Palm Beach State College enables viable academic and professional paths for students through three strategic pillars: scholarships, early college admissions and advisory programs.

Scholarship Fund
Through Emerging Scholars, high school students are receiving more than scholarships; they have hope, guidance and opportunities. Students – from middle schoolers to high school seniors – can complete their academic journey with the promise of tuition free college diplomas and certifications thanks to the Stephen M. Ross Scholarship Fund.

Early College Academy
Through dual enrollment and mentorships, the Early College Academy gives students head-start access to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), health sciences and other high-demand career pathways, empowering young people today and impacting the community tomorrow.

Embedded Advisory
Advisory is the cornerstone of any pedagogical program. Neurodevelopmental constructs and other factors can be determinants that impact students’ academic, social and personal success. During these years of developmental transition, a customized advisory program provides students with a much needed advocate.


With Emerging Scholars, Palm Beach State College advisors take up residency at Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill, working closely with school counselors to help students navigate life’s goals, successes and challenges. The advisory program also helps increase the number of high school graduates entering Palm Beach State, ensuring a college to career pipeline that serves the community’s workforce and economic mobility of students and their families.

The Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars program comes with the launch of Related Together, funding projects that foster change and economic growth in underinvested communities. Moreover, Emerging Scholars is the non-profit’s first educational initiative and complements the current Northend RISE initiative, addressing the housing, education, employment and health needs of individuals and families since 2021. 

Ross Parker

Stephen Ross and PBSC President Ava Parker.

Just as Palm Beach State’s mission strives to transform lives, Northend RISE, which stands for “Respect plus Integrity plus Strength equals Equity,” is transforming West Palm Beach’s Northend area.

Stephen Ross’s gift is one of the largest in Palm Beach State’s 90-year history, a testament to the belief he has in not only the College but also the community. The announcement came in early December 2023 at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach on a beautiful day in a neighborhood where the Northend RISE initiative is currently in place. In attendance, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and Palm Beach State President Ava L. Parker, J.D., shared their praise and appreciation.

“Mr. Ross’s gift is a beacon of prosperity and represents an exemplary collaboration between Related Together and Palm Beach State, contributing to our community with opportunities of inclusive growth for all,” said Mayor James with his wide, signature smile.

Ross Group Photo Parker Rutherford

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, Gopal Rajegowda, Stephen Ross, PBSC President Ava Parker, Foundation for PBSC CEO David Rutherford, Foundation Board Member Julie Kime, District Board Trustee Carolyn Williams, Foundation Board Vice Chair Noel Guillama, John Kime.


With unmistakable Palm Beach State passion in her voice, President Parker called Emerging Scholars “a blueprint for success,” one that helps remove barriers to postsecondary education. “Together, we are investing in our young people with early college programs and expanding a qualified workforce for businesses to thrive right here in Palm Beach County.”

Mr. Ross agreed. “We have the capacity and resources in our own backyard to offer a gift that never stops giving – to educate young students and impact our community. West Palm Beach is in a position to become a model city for this country.”

Seeing West Palm Beach as a unique environment for growth, Stephen Ross is focused on education and investments that lead to action, taking our historic neighborhoods from poverty to equity. In this way, by bringing those who call Palm Beach County home together, we are all related.


Scholarship Details

Award: $5,000; A two-year award for students with a minimum of 2.5 unweighted GPA. By request, an additional $500 is available for the summer term. 

Program of Study: All Career Pathways 

Enrollment Requirement: degree-seeking, full-time student (12+ credits) 

Funds available:  Fall, Spring and (if requested $500 for Summer) 

Funds cover: In-State tuition, registration fees, books, student employment, transportation, and other needs.  

Initial Criteria:

  • Resides in Historical Northwest, Coleman Park, or Pleasant City neighborhoods.   
  • Participated in the Emerging Scholars Program  
  • Attended the NextGen Summer Bridge Program  
  • Demonstrate financial need (A completed FAFSA may be required to be considered for this scholarship)  
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (including students who qualify for the 3-yr HS tuition waiver)  

Additional Criteria (post award): 

  • Write a “Letter of Gratitude” to the Related Together Foundation.  
  • Be a degree-seeking, full-time student (12+ credits)   
  • Note: ¾ enrollment may be considered under special circumstances.  

Criteria for Award Renewal:  

  • Maintain full-time enrollment (12+ credits) 
  • Make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). 
  • Be in good academic standing (min 2.5 GPA). 


Selection Process 

  • Step One: Students submit the PBSC Foundation Application by DATE TBA.  
  • Step Two: Students’ applications are screened by staff for eligibility as defined by the donor’s criteria.  
  • Step Three: Students’ applications are sent to the Equity Institute, Dean of Student Success, or designee.  
  • Step Four: Director of the Equity Institute, Dean of Student Success, or designee selects scholarship recipient(s).  


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