Last night, I attended my first board of trustees for Marathon Scholars. I am excited about what this organization has accomplished and what we can do to further the mission of making the dream of college a reality for talented and low-income kids. They identify high-potential students in the 4th grade and walk with them, providing them mentoring and a college scholarship, until they complete their bachelor's degree.
I first learned about Marathon Scholars, when their executive director spoke at an iSing Choir concert as the beneficiary. I was attracted to several things about the organization.
First, they measure and hold themselves accountable to the right thing: college graduations. Not college enrollments. The statistics around low income and first generation college student graduation rates are deplorable and often these same students, with great potential and good intentions, cut their college careers short of a degree (and the earning potential and opportunity that brings), but take with them student loans that can further burden their lives in the future. Marathon Scholars takes seriously their commitment, and that of the student scholar and their parents, to complete college.
Secondly, they start at the right time: 4th grade. They select students in the Portland Metro and SW Washington area through an application progress and pair them with mentoring resources to help with individualized guidance, advising, and college prep programming for the next 12 years. In addition, they receive the first of their college scholarship, totaling $12,000 donated month-by-month over by a sponsor who also partners in their potential. 4th grade might seem like too early to be talking about college, but it seemed to me to be the perfect time. Before they must persevere through advanced math and English classes. Before they start making life-impacting decisions that would later affect their college readiness. Before they are told that they are not college material, Marathon Scholars reminds them that they are!
I welcome you to join me in this good work. You can participate in many different ways. We are in need of some scholarship sponsors that would commit to donate every month or quarter to fund the scholarships of one of our 2015 cohort of 4th graders. A one-time gift could also help with operational plans, including helping to off-set the cost of the Annual Summer Celebration happening on June 20th.
At this family friendly event, we will be serving up ice cream and stories of hope and accomplishment. All are invited and you can learn more and RSVP here. I hope you can come.
You can also follow Marathon Scholars on Twitter, Facebook, the blog, and via their email newsletter which you can access on their home page. While you are there, you can also check out the great video of what mentoring means to these scholars!