FGCB College Graduate


Alliance Testifies

Maryland Alliance Testifies Before Maryland Assembly to Remove Barriers for Low-Income Students

First Generation College Bound (FGCB) has joined with other organizations throughout Maryland to form the Maryland Alliance for College Affordability and Equity (Maryland Alliance).

Maryland Alliance Testifies Before Maryland Assembly to Remove Barriers for Low-Income Students

The Maryland Alliance is a coalition of non-profit organizations across Maryland that assist students from low-income, first-generation, and marginalized families in pursuing the promise of higher education. The goal of the Maryland Alliance is to remove systemic, administrative, legal, and regulatory barriers limiting low-income students’ access to college.

In February 2023, FGCB President Joe Fisher – who serves as the Chair of the Maryland Alliance -- testified at the Maryland Assembly in support of two legislative proposals, HB 923 and SB 662. Janice Doyle, an adviser to the Maryland Alliance, also testified in support of the legislation. These bills made changes to Maryland’s need-based financial aid programs to remove barriers for low-income students, allowing them to qualify more readily for awards and making financial aid more accessible to a greater number of people.

We need to get these programs right for the communities we serve, not just for the moment but for future generations. That is why we felt it important to advocate for removing the financial aid barriers for students attending college and graduating.

Some of the legislation provisions highlighted in the Maryland Alliance testimony:

Changes to the Guaranteed Access Grants awards

  • Elimination of the requirement to enroll within one year of high school graduation.
  • Elimination of the requirement to be under the age of 22 to receive a grant award.
  • Elimination of the college prep requirement.
  • Elimination of the 2.5 GPA requirement.

Changes to the Next Generation Scholarship Program

  • Allows students who are eligible for the federal free lunch program to be eligible for services.
  • Allows students who have been in the program for at least a year to continue participating if they move to another Maryland county, even if the county does not qualify for the Next Generation Scholarship program.

Changes to the Promise Scholarship Program

  • Makes the Promise Scholarship a campus-based program where certification of eligibility for new and renewal awards is handled at the college level (rather than at the Maryland Higher Education Commission level).
  • Allows awards for students who enroll for at least six credits per semester.
  • Provides that community colleges verify the income of applicants using federal standards.

By expanding the universe of students eligible for these financial aid programs, we are removing barriers that often hinder college success for many low-income students.

The Maryland Alliance will continue identifying barriers and advocating for changes with State policymakers and agencies. We will continue to provide a voice for students from low-income and first-generation families and work to improve their access to higher education.

FGCB Alumni Del. Alonzo Washington selected for Maryland Senate

The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee selected FGCB Alumni Del. Alonzo Washington on Saturday to fill a vacant seat in the Maryland Senate.

Maryland Democratic Central Committee Nomination.

Washington, 39, was the only person who came before the committee to seek the vacant seat. He will serve the remaining four-year term after all 188 legislator seats in both chambers were up in the November election.

“I want to thank everybody that came here today. I look forward to really working with all of you,” Washington, joined by his wife and their one-month daughter, said to dozens of supporters at the Glenarden Municipal Center.

Washington, who was first appointed to the House in December 2012, represents District 22 in the Hyattsville area. He replaces outgoing Sen. Paul Pinksy (D), who Moore selected to head the Maryland Energy Administration.

Washington stepped down as CASA in Action’s first executive director and organized and led various get-out-vote efforts throughout Maryland and other parts of the country.

He’s also known as an education advocate. He served four years on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, which sought to reexamine and reform the state’s public school system. The recommendations from the commission, also called the Kirwan Commission, are part of the multi-billion-dollar Blueprint for Maryland Future’s education reform plan.

“I’ve recognized his character, which always stood out to me. That’s important when you’re talking about leadership,” said Joe Fisher, who founded the First Generation College Bound program and spoke on Washington’s behalf. “He’s resilient, honest, he has integrity, and he’s passionate for the people. He’s impacted not only in this district, Prince George’s County, but the entire state.”

Joe Fisher, right, speaks on behalf of Del. Alonzo Washington during a Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee meeting on Jan. 21. Patricia Parker, center, listens. Photo by William J. Ford.

Once Washington’s appointment is finalized, the county’s central committee must schedule another meeting to select a person to replace him in the House of Delegates.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) would also have to find a new vice chair for the House Ways and Means Committee, a position Washington currently holds.

If Washington is appointed, he would tentatively serve on the Judicial Proceedings Committee, filling a vacancy on that panel left by former Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery), a senior member on the committee who Moore appointed as secretary of state.

Washington’s replacement in the House would serve Dels. Nicole Williams (D) and Anne Healey (D), representing the district.

Read Article @ Maryland Matters

Mission Statement: FGCB exists to inspire low-income and first-generation youth to achieve social and economic success by providing advice, encouragement, and support to obtain a college degree.

FGCB Advocacy Alive and Well

“House of Delegates Passes Largest New State Investment in Higher Education Financial Aid in Maryland in a Generation.”


We have exciting news to share with you that is directly aligned with the organization’s vision: “One day every Marylander will have access to an affordable college education.” We have been hard at work on many levels to ensure our voices are heard and action is taken at the local and state government levels to provide significant financial support for students pursuing higher education in Maryland.

There are two recent activities that are noteworthy. The attached document is a press release from the Office of Delegate Brooke Lierman entitled: “House of Delegates Passes Largest New State Investment in Higher Education Financial Aid in Maryland in a Generation.” Joe Fisher, our Founder, and CEO who also chairs Maryland Alliance for College Affordability and Equity was quoted as “The Maryland Alliance supports HB734 because it is a Win-Win for Maryland because more needy students will receive the Howard P. Rawling Education Assistance making it affordable for them to attend college. HB734 also demonstrates Maryland’s commitment to students of poverty by removing a financial barrier for them to attend college and graduate.” We’d like to especially thank Delegate Jared Solomon, District 18, Montgomery County, and Delegate Alonzo Washington, District 22, Prince George's County who were instrumental in the passage of this new legislation. Please take a few minutes to read the attached document for more information about the bill.

Download & View HB734 MD Student Investment Act Press Release

On the local level, we were proud to be represented during the latest Prince George’s County Council virtual meeting by two FGCB students, Tsion Wolde from High Point High School and Mayly Cisneros from DuVal High School. They were accompanied by FGCB Director of Program Services, Deja Cobbs. The group provided testimony highlighting the significance of the Housing Community Development Block Grant.

FGCB continues to be at the forefront of advocating for college affordability and removing barriers for low-income students to attend college and graduate! It is important for FGCB to highlight how student contributions at the county and state levels help to further promote the vision and mission of First Generation College Bound.

We always welcome and have a need for additional voices to give testimony during these legislative sessions. If you are interested in participating in future hearings, please contact FGCB offices by phone (301) 490-0911 or by email FGCBAdmin@fgcb.org.

Mission Statement: FGCB exists to inspire low-income and first-generation youth to achieve social and economic success by providing advice, encouragement, and support to obtain a college degree.

Cambridge Jones, an FGCB graduate, was selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Read the full article by Brianna M. Gillard @ YES! Weekly

Cambridge Jones, a First Generation College Bound graduate of Central High School, currently a junior at Bennet College, was selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad through the end of 2021.

Cambridge Jones, a Pre-med junior, chose to study abroad in Costa Rica for the fall 2021 semester. “I am very excited to have received this incredible scholarship to study abroad. I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and this scholarship will help fund my goal I have before graduating in 2022,” said Jones. “I am very thankful to be a recipient of such an esteemed scholarship. I can now experience the Costa Rican culture, further my educational career, and study another language. In my experiences, I look forward to sharing with my Bennett sisters and hope they take the same leap of faith.” Jones choose Costa Rica as an opportunity to linguistically advance in her studying the Spanish language, which would afford her the ability to care for patients in her career.

The Congressionally funded Gilman Scholarship Program successfully broadens the U.S. student population by providing scholarships to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise study or intern abroad. The Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 or up to $8,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. Since the program’s establishment in 2001, over 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent over 33,000 Gilman Scholars of diverse backgrounds to 151 countries worldwide.

FGCB partnering with Olive Branch Community Church at Sherwood High School

 Jefferi Lee (Blue shirt), guest speaks from OBCC speaks to students (Alina, Danys & Oscar) about college life and time management.

Jefferi Lee (Blue shirt), guest speaks from OBCC speaks to students (Alina, Danys & Oscar) about college life and time management.

MSDE Awards Grants to FGCB!

Funds Will Help Advance College and Career Awareness

BALTIMORE – The Maryland State Department of Education has awarded grants to seven nonprofit organizations that will help enhance college and career awareness and college completion for low-income high school students.
Maryland’s new Next Generation Scholars program was established by the General Assembly (House Bill 1403) in 2016. The $4.7 million state grant program makes funding available to nonprofit organizations in order to develop programs that provide guidance and services to strengthen college access and success.
The Next Generation Scholars program will be offered by the Maryland Business Roundtable (Allegany, Caroline, and Wicomico County Public Schools), First Generation College Bound (Prince George’s County Public Schools), and It Takes A Village (Somerset County Public Schools). Programs in Baltimore City Public Schools will be offered by Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens (MERIT), The Y in Central Maryland, CollegeBound Foundation, and Morgan State University.
The law includes a prequalification for college funds that will be available through the Guaranteed Access Grant, administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). The Guaranteed Access Grant provides an award that will help cover the cost of full time study at a Maryland college or university for low-income families.
A new solicitation for grant proposals will be released on October 2, 2017 for nonprofit organizations to administer the Next Generation Scholars of Maryland Program in Allegany County, Baltimore City, Caroline County, Dorchester County, Kent County, Prince George’s County, Somerset County, and Wicomico County.



Growing up in a government housing project in Southeast Washington, Joe Fisher never thought much about college. One of eight children whose father didn't make it past 10th grade or his mother past sixth, college did not seem like an option.

But thanks partly to a track and field scholarship to Catholic University, Fisher earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree.
Pathway to College -low-income families know about ways to afford a college education | Joe Fisher

Now, 40 years after he graduated from college, the 62-year-old Laurel resident has helped more than 500 young men and women get college degrees they never thought were possible.

Fisher's is a story of determination and vision that has made the Laurel-based program that he started a quarter century ago, First Generation College Bound Inc., a heartwarming success story with a statewide reputation.


Select Post