About MOST

Providing Educational Options in Memphis

Our History

Providing children with educational opportunities since 1998

In 1998, Memphis businessman Bob Solmson founded MOST on the belief that all children deserve an equal opportunity to receive the education that best fit their needs—regardless of their ZIP codes or financial circumstances. To fulfill that mission, MOST offers need-based scholarships to qualifying families in Shelby County who wish to send their children to private schools.

Thanks to contributions of more than $23 million from individuals, corporations, and foundations, MOST has served more than 3,500 children since its inception. In addition to local donations, MOST receives funds from the Children's Scholarship Fund, a New York organization,  that helps support thousands of scholarships across the U.S.

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Our Team

Abbey Cowens

Abbey Cowens

Executive Director

Abbey joined MOST as executive director in August 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she studied sociology.   Abbey and her husband have two active sons who keep them at sports events most nights of the week. She enjoys reading, getting lost in television, and snuggling with her boys and dogs. 

Sallie Norton

Salle Norton

Scholarship Director

Salle has worked at MOST since its founding in 1998. Before that, she worked in property and project management at RFS Hotel Investors. She is a graduate of White Station High School and attended Memphis State University, where she studied journalism.

She and her husband Tom are proud parents of twins Chandler and Charles. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and taking fishing trips with her family. Don’t be surprised if you see her driving around Collierville with her Golden Retriever, Chesney, whom she loves to spoil.

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2021-2022 School Year Quick Facts

  • MOST granted $1,038,452 to 375 students attending 45 partner schools.
  • The average scholarship for students in PK3 through grade 12 is $2,769.
  • The average tuition per student is $11,016 (not including financial aid provided by schools).
  • The average annual MOST family income is $43,242.
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We are NOT...

  • Anti-public schools: MOST believes in great schools wherever they are and however they are funded. Every child is unique and learns in their own way. When parents are equipped with educational options they are able to help their children in the best way possible. Visit our Parents page for information that will help you make an informed decision when choosing among the public, private, and charter schools in the Memphis area.
  • A handout: MOST helps lower-income families meet their financial responsibility at schools that require tuition. There is a partnership among MOST, the schools, and the parents, who must contribute financially toward the cost of their children's education at a private school.
  • Only for “the head of the class”: There are no academic requirements to become a MOST Scholar, as we believe that every child deserves to be taught the best way they learn. We accept new students entering PK3, PK4, kindergarten, and grades 1 and 2 based on the family's financial needs. Research proves time and again that the first years of a child's educational experience set the tone for how a child learns in subsequent years.

How MOST Scholarships Work

  • Families who qualify financially may apply for a scholarship for their preschooler, kindergartner, first- or second-grader, or child with special-needs up to grade 8.
    Note: Each February, MOST receives hundreds more pre-applications than it can fund. For new families, scholarships are awarded by lottery in early spring. Families already receiving a MOST scholarship are required to submit requalification paperwork each spring, but do not have to enter the lottery process. 
  • The parents or guardians of MOST Scholars choose the schools they believe are the best fit for their children. MOST provides the scholarship funds directly to the partner schools each semester.
  • Scholarship amounts are determined based on a combination of the family’s income, household size, and the portion of tuition they are expected to pay. The current average scholarship is $2,769 and families are paying approximately $3,286 per student annually. 
  • During the second semester of eighth grade, MOST Scholars are encouraged to apply for the MOST High School Scholars Program and the merit-based McDonnell Scholarship. 
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Children's Scholarship Fund

Children's Scholarship Fund Network

MOST is part of the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) national network of scholarship-granting organizations. CSF and its partner programs are committed to empowering families in need with the ability to choose the K–8 schools that best meet their children’s needs, regardless of their ability to pay or where they live. For more information, please visit scholarshipfund.org.