In 1997, Vera Jackson, a woman named in 2007 by Points North Magazine as "Georgia's First Lady of Philanthropy," established the Vera Jackson Scholarship Program. Born in 1906 in Lumpkin County, Georgia, Vera Jackson was the second eldest of 12 children. She was the daughter of poor tenant farmers who moved to Barrow County in 1917. After graduating from high school, Ms. Jackson moved to Atlanta to work at Sears, Roebuck and Co. and send money home to support her family. Ms. Jackson later earned an undergraduate degree from Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College & State University), a law degree from Atlanta Law School, and a Master's degree in Economics from Emory University. She was a lifelong teacher in Atlanta Public Schools. After retiring from teaching, Ms. Jackson traveled and managed her retirement investments.
Upon her death in 1996, Ms. Jackson left $1.2 million to Georgia Community Foundation, Inc. to fund college room and board scholarships for college-bound high school graduates from Fannin, Union, Towns, and Lumpkin counties who, even though they would be receiving a HOPE Scholarship, could not otherwise afford to attend college.
Since the first Vera Jackson Scholarships were awarded in 1997, the scholarship program has provided 130 students with scholarships valued at approximately $3,200. Upon graduating from college, many scholarship recipients have returned to live and work in the north Georgia area. With the financial assistance provided from a separate Vera Jackson Alumni Education Fund, several of the former scholarship recipients have earned graduate degrees. Some of the former Vera Jackson Scholarship recipients have joined a mentoring program established by GCF to encourage and advise current scholarship recipients. There is also a Vera Jackson Alumni Society, which organizes occasional meetings among former scholarship recipients and their families.