ABBEVILLE — As the Abbeville Promise capital campaign enters its public phase, the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation announced Thursday the scholarship fund has raised $713,500, about 59 percent of the $1.2 million it needs to be fully funded.

The Abbeville Promise is a proposed scholarship program that, starting with the graduating class of 2018, would fully fund a two-year education at Piedmont Technical College for any student who receives a high school diploma while a resident of Abbeville County — regardless of whether they went to public or private school, were homeschooled, or any other alternative.

The $1.2 million goal would fund the program for 10 years.

Brad Evans, chairman of the FCCF, said the he’s excited about the headway that’s been made so far.

“It’s really been a huge success,” he said. “So far, it’s been really good.”

Dozens of people gathered under a tent at the Abbeville campus of Piedmont Technical College for the announcement and to mark the beginning of public phase.

Until Thursday, the FCCF was reaching out to industries for donations but will now begin reaching out to Abbeville County residents for support.

Representatives with the organization will begin calling residents to provide information about the campaign and encourage donations.

“Please consider making a meaningful investment into the future of Abbeville County, our students, our children and making this promise a reality,” Evans told the crowd Thursday. “

Evans said he’s optimistic entering this stage of the campaign.

“Now we turn it over to the public and put the information out there and we really think we are well on our way to meeting our goal,” he said.

Contact staff writer Conor Hughes at 864-943-2511 or on Twitter @IJConorHughes.