“What I saw was an opportunity to make a marketplace and that is to take a combination of families who want to be proactive and plan for college, but help them do it so it’s done in the most effective and efficient way possible,” Windham said. “But also, the reality is ... most families do not have the time in this economy and don’t have the means to do that along the way, and even if they do, we get busy in life and fail to put those things in place.”
He continued, “The reality is college is the single largest expense that individuals and families will incur with the fewest options to pay for it. ... Our average family last year got $22,000 of free college money per year — money that they’ll never have to pay back.”
Windham said he feels a positive aspect of his business is it aims to help Bartow County youth out of financial ruin when working toward an education; it also helps keep money local.
“For every dollar we can keep a young man or young woman from going into debt or a family from having to spend so they can healthily retire, then that’s obviously a dollar that can stay here and be used the way [the individual or family] would like to [use the money],” Windham said, adding he appreciates the relationship the business has with the Bartow County College and Career Academy as well as the Bartow County School System as a whole.
While the institute aims to help families and individuals, Windham said, it also requires those looking for assistance to apply themselves when reaching the goal of a college education.
“We start working with eighth graders and we have programs where through a two-year community service and leadership program that they can be eligible at the time of graduation their senior year for a quarter of a million dollars of annually renewable money for scholarships,” Windham said.
Chamber President Joe Frank Harris Jr. was positive about the CPI’s role in the education and business community.
“Education is at the heart of a lot of us here at the chamber,” Harris said. “We want to have a community where the kids wouldn’t have to move out of town after they graduate.”