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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — About 80 Shelby County School students are touring college campuses this week, thanks to an organization that is trying to expose as many students as possible to higher education.

Leadership Memphis is trying to send hundreds of more students on college and career visits over the next year.

Carver High School Senior Mildred Goins said her sister was the first in her immediate family to go to college. She is next.

“I have younger cousins, and it shows me that I can show them that there’s more to life than just where you are from and just your zip code and everything. It’s able for you to take a higher step into life,” Goins said.

Earlier this year, she went on college tours with Leadership Memphis, an organization that works to mobilize leaders in the community.

It teamed up with eight local high schools to introduce students to college campuses and vocational/technical programs.

Now, it is making a push to help more than ever before.

“They get an opportunity to feel what the campus is like, the admissions process, get a chance to talk to some of the kids at the school and make their determination from there,” said Leadership Memphis VP Tori Taylor.

Taylor said about 80 percent of the students they take on tours could be first-generation college students.

In the past year, Leadership Memphis raised money to send about 500 students on tours.

Over the next year, it wants to send 750.

“We know that’s going to be the next step to actually flourish the talent we have here in the city,” Taylor said.

“I think it’s important to go to college, because it’s easier to get a job versus not going to college. You have to try very hard to get a job,” said East High School student and college tour participant Linneka Watson.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimates that about 93,000 adults in Shelby County do not have a high school education.

Leadership Memphis said it is encouraging students to move on to college or other higher learning, but it is also supporting students to graduate high school in the first place.

“Among my classmates, a lot of them are not thinking about college,” Goins said.

Leadership Memphis hopes more visits can change that.

It is looking for donations to help finance the tours. The Turley Family Foundation is providing a 1:2 match. You can learn more about donating here.