“Simmons provides families and educators with valuable information on effective practices involving both access to college and academic success. His analysis includes practical suggestions and a substantial review of the literature, along with policy recommendations and actual solutions. Most importantly, he brings first-hand experience in working with students throughout their higher education experiences, and he inspires us with their stories.”

–Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County


“The brilliantly told story of a mentoring program, launched and sustained by an African-American family, which nourishes access and success in college for first-generation, low-income youths of all races. This is a playbook to study for social scientific and practical answers.”

–Joseph A. Soares, author of The Power of Privilege: Yale and America’s Elite Colleges


About the Book

Even high-performing students sometimes need assistance to transform their high school achievement into a higher education outcome that matches their potential, especially when those students come from vulnerable backgrounds. Without intervention, many of these students, lost in the transition between secondary school and higher education, would not attend selective colleges that provide greater opportunities. Potential on the Periphery profiles the Simmons Memorial Foundation (SMF), a grassroots non-profit organization co-founded by author Omari Scott Simmons, that promotes college access for students in North Carolina and Delaware. Simmons discusses how the organization has helped students secure admission and succeed in college, using this example to contextualize the broader realm of existing education practice, academic theory, and public policy. Using data gleaned from interviews with past student participants in the programs run by the SMF, Simmons illuminates the underlying factors thwarting student achievement, such as inadequate information about college options, limited opportunities for social capital acquisition, financial pressures, self-doubt, and political weakness. Simmons then identifies policy solutions and pragmatic strategies that college access organizations can adopt to address these factors.

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Cynthia Treco Simmons Scholarship
Victor Desnoyers – Atkins High School – Howard University 

Nathaniel P Simmons Jr. Scholarship
Alaina Watkins – Parkland High School – UNC School of the Arts
Kolachi Oparanozie – Parkland High School – George Mason University
 Nathaniel P Simmons III Scholarship
Danielle Coan – Early College of Forsyth County-  NC State University 

The SMF Annual College Trip took place from October 9-12, 2017. This year students visited the Greater Philadelphia region.  Students visited the following cultural sites and schools: Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Swarthmore College, Haverford College, and the Barnes Foundation Art Collection. One highlight of the trip included a banquet at Maggiano’s Little Italy near Reading Terminal where students listened to and interacted with distinguished guests that included professionals, students, and SMF alumni from the Greater Philadelphia region.



The SMF Annual College trip took place from October 17 – 19, 2016. This year students visited the Greater Atlanta area.  Students visited the following cultural sites and schools: Davidson College, Georgia Tech, Spelman College, Emory University,  Morehouse College, Center for Civil and Human Rights.  One highlight of the trip included a banquet at Pascal’s Restaurant where students listened to and interacted with distinguished guests that included professionals from the Greater Atlanta region.


SMF Announces 2016 Scholarship Recipients


Cynthia Treco Simmons Memorial Scholarship 

Caroline Phan – Parkland High School – Davidson College

Andra Woods – Parkland High School – Bowdoin College

Ashley Douglas – Parkland High School – University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

Maria Cruzat – Early College of Forsyth – UNC Charlotte


Nathaniel P. Simmons Memorial Scholarship 

Roger Cameron Berry – Reagan High School – NC A&T University


Nathaniel P. Simmons III Memorial Scholarship

Jontae Lindsey – East Forsyth High School – UNC Wilmington

Raines Warren – Reynolds High School – Howard University

Alexis Douglas – Parkland High School – NC State University

Jada Moore – Reynolds High School – NC A&T University

Mikalah Muhammad – Atkins High School – NC A&T University


To learn about past winners click here


This message is to announce our first SMF meeting of the 2016-2017 school year on Sunday, September 18th at the Wake Forest Law School from 2-4pm. The purpose of this meeting is to welcome new and returning students, provide important college admissions strategies, tips, and information.  We will also discuss our upcoming college trip in October. Please be on the lookout for information regarding the specific room number.

Since 1985, Winston-Salem’s oldest and most-respected community newspaper has invited elected officials, business professionals, community leaders, residents and other stakeholders in the community to take part in the award ceremony designed to honor individuals throughout the area for their hard work and dedication to improving lives. Last Saturday evening, April 23, hundreds of people gathered at the Donald Julian Reaves Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University for the 31st edition of he annual event.

Community Service Awards went to Suzanne Reynolds, Dean of the Wake Forest University (WFU) School of Law; Kelly Carpenter, senior pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church; Omari Scott Simmons, Director of the Business Law Program at WFU & Executive Director, Simmons Memorial Foundation; Bishop Todd Fulton, president of the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity; and Elizabeth Speight, the longtime choir musician and musical director for the Rupert Bell Singers, who perform in the community for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult day care programs. Read More