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The Reverend Pinckney College Readiness Program


The Reverend Pinckney College Readiness Program offers high school students in Beaufort, Charleston and Jasper counties the support and resources they need to prepare for the college application and selection process. It was established at the Foundation by the same anonymous donors who started the Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Program as a prerequisite program to help students navigate the often-complex stages leading up to college enrollment. Starting in 2020, only students who have completed the College Readiness Program will be eligible for the Reverend Pinckney Scholarship.

The College Readiness Program helps high school students, their families and supporters prepare for, research, evaluate and ultimately select which college is right for them. It runs from second semester of junior year through  senior year. Students are coached on ACT/SAT preparation, writing college essays, seeking and obtaining financial aid and scholarships and filling out FAFSA forms. They are offered advice and counseling from college enrollment specialists and visit college campuses with their peers in the program. While it involves rigorous and consistent coaching, the program is designed with flexibility in mind to accommodate students’ activities, work and personal obligations.

Coastal Community Foundation’s College Readiness Program works specifically with African-American students to help close the equity gaps that have persisted in South Carolina schools for generations.


Dreams are meant to be chased.

CCF’s College Readiness Program places a great emphasis on ensuring students are well-aware of the options available to them.

Students are consistently encouraged to take advantage of their personal strengths, and to make decisions about college based on their dreams and aspirations first and foremost. Along the way, they gain instrumental real-world skills to ensure their success in college and beyond.



We call our students Visionaries.

This program is named after the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who embodied what it meant to be a visionary leader. He was the youngest African-American elected to the South Carolina state legislature in 1996 at just 23-years-old. He was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 2000, served as pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and oversaw dozens of other AME churches in the surrounding region. In both his religious and political service, he was known for his commitment to justice and shaping a better future for his community.

Our Visionaries, likewise, are encouraged to fearlessly pursue their dreams and embrace opportunities to serve others in their schools and communities.

Apply now!

We are now accepting applications through an online portal here. Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 15. If you have questions about the online process, please reach Zahra Gauthier at zahra@coastalcommunityfoundation.org.

Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply the fall of their junior year:

  • African American
  • Permanent residents of Beaufort, Charleston or Jasper County
  • Have an unweighted GPA of at least 2.5
  • Taking courses to prepare for academic success during and after college
  • Planning to attend a two-year or four-year college upon graduation
  • Eligible for a Pell Grant (This online tool, FAFSA4Caster, gives you a free early estimate of your eligibility).

Selection Process

  • Selection criteria include, but are not limited to, substantial financial need, academic performance and letters of recommendation. The selection committee will look for character traits and aspirations in applicants that will serve as a fitting legacy to the life of Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.
  • Applications are accepted in the fall semester of students’ junior year of high school, and selections are announced in December.
  • Up to 30 students are selected each year.

Students accepted into the program are expected to:

  • Be committed to attending and graduating from college.
  • Be a good citizen at school and in the community.
  • Be motivated, intellectually curious and to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Keep appointments, meet deadlines, and be responsive to all staff communications.

Meet CCF’s Student Success and Scholarship Manager Zahra Gauthier, who runs the College Readiness Program.


Zahra Gauthier brings a blended experience as both a teacher and an expert in college access to the College Readiness Program. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida International University and a Masters of Education in Social Studies Education from the University of Florida. She taught middle and high school social studies in four states before joining a nonprofit organization focusing on college access in Washington, D.C.

A native of Miami, Zahra is the child of Latin American immigrants and is a first-generation college graduate. Combined with her personal and professional experience is her passion to help other minority and first-generation students get to and succeed in college.