A substantial grant from an East Coast philanthropic organization will give low-income students from a nearby high school a glimpse at what may be possible — a college education.
It was announced April 29 that the New York-based Teagle Foundation had granted $300,000 to George Fox University to fund its pre-college seminar program for low-income, underserved students at Woodburn High School. The school's Liberation Scholars Program, funded through the Teagle Foundation's Knowledge for Freedom initiative over the course of three years, will bring more than a dozen students to Newberg for two weeks in July for a seminar covering great works of philosophy, literature and history.
The program, according to a release from the university, is specifically designed for Hispanic seniors-to-be at the high school and will be followed by meetings with GFU faculty, staff and student mentors throughout the following academic year at the high school to prepare the students for college.
They will receive assistance with the college application process, tracking down scholarships and will be mentored in leadership development and learn effective study skills. Interspersed in those sessions will be visits from local civic leaders and "flash seminars" that use classic texts to respond directly to students' curiosity.
Director and grant administrator for the program, Heather Ohaneson, an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, said she has seen firsthand the power of the Liberation Scholars program after witnessing it as a student adviser.
"I had the privilege of working as a graduate student with the Teagle Foundation's Freedom and Citizenship program at Columbia University, so I know firsthand how personally and civically transformative it is to pursue big questions — like 'What does it mean to be free?' — around a shared seminar table," she said. "Because I believe strongly in the potential of Woodburn High School students and the power of humanities education, I am delighted to launch the Liberation Scholars program at George Fox as a part of the Teagle Foundation's Knowledge for Freedom initiative."
The GFU program will employ a format based on text, writing and discussion focused on the essential aspects of freedom and citizenship. It will feature a number of Spanish-language authors in a great books curriculum and students will be expected to engage in question-driven seminars tackling big life questions, such as "What do members of a community owe each other?" "What role do you play in your community?" and "How can education prepare people for political involvement and leadership?"
The nuts and bolts of the GFU program include the students living together in dorms and the students' tuition, room, board, books and enrollment in the program are paid for via the Teagle grant.
For more information on the program, call Ohaneson at 503-554-2158.
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