BDS District Scholars Program

The Bay District Schools Scholars program is an initiative of the Bay Ed Foundation and Bay District Schools to support BDS employees interested in classroom teaching. The goal of this program is to create a pathway for employees to work in supported programs toward teacher certification. 

In partnership with Florida State University Panama City, Gulf Coast State College, St. Joe Community Foundation, Bay Education Foundation, and Grand Canyon University, Bay District Schools is excited to support this “grow your own” program for paraprofessionals and other non-certified staff to become classroom teachers. Through collaborative, county-wide efforts, Bay District Scholars program offers college tuition assistance and support to BDS employees who aspire to become educators. Now in it’s second year, the program generally falls into this schedule:

  • October: Kick-off Meeting
  • November: College Application Completion Event
  • January: FAFSA night; Apply for Bay Ed BDS Scholars Program Funding (If eligible)
  • April/May: Enroll for Fall Classes
  • August: Begin coursework at FSU PC, GCSC, or GCU
  • September: Apply for Bay Ed Foundation’s Greener Grass program

The BDS Scholars program streamlines candidates into two categories: those WITH 60+ Credits and those with 60- credits. For information on financial assistance for the Under 60 cohort, contact BDS Comms at For information on financial assistance for the Over 60 Credits cohort, please read on… 


Candidates with 60+ Credit Hours OR an Associate Degree


Minimum Requirements:

  • Be a current employee with at least two years of employment history with BDS (In any capacity, full-time, part-time, or contract)
  • Have already earned 60 Credit Hours or an Associate’s Degree
  • Provide Income Information (Not used to determine eligibility, just for tracking)
  • Apply through Bay Ed Foundation for this funding
  • Maintain a 2.0 or Higher throughout the program
  • Submit Transcripts to document GPA & enrollment to Bay Ed twice annually
  • Actively working toward degree completion (Continued Enrollment)


  • Candidates want to continue to work at BDS after certification
  • Education Majors will be given first consideration, but this is not a requirement of our program

Bay Ed Commitment:

  • $500 per semester, up to five semesters
  • Total tuition contribution will not exceed $2,500 per student
  • Last-dollar scholarship, Funds are sent directly to your university
  • Guarantee a $1,000 Grant to cover classroom supplies, classroom libraries, or supplies in your first year of teaching
  • $250 Stipend after the second year of teaching, if contracted for a third year at BDS

Total Contribution = $3,750.00

Applications for this program open in January 2024 and a live link will appear here in January!