Grant Funds Summer Mentorship Program for Latinx High School Seniors

Students standing in a circle near the university clocktower

A $300,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation is funding the university’s sponsorship of a seminar program that will allow intellectually curious, low-income high school students from Woodburn, Oregon, to live on campus and take a pre-college course this summer.

The Liberation Scholars program, funded through the Teagle Foundation’s Knowledge for Freedom initiative, will bring about 15 students to George Fox’s Newberg campus for two weeks in July for a fully funded two-week seminar covering great works of philosophy, literature and history. Classes will employ a text-, writing- and discussion-based format focused on essential aspects of freedom and citizenship, and will highlight a number of Spanish-language authors – from Sor Juana to Sandra Cisneros – in a great books curriculum.

Specifically designed for Latinx seniors-to-be at Woodburn High School, the summer sessions will be followed by academic-year meetings in which a team of George Fox faculty, staff and students will mentor participants throughout the college application process, seeking to increase the scholars’ college readiness and appreciation for the humanities. To that end, four bilingual George Fox seniors have been hired to serve as mentors for the program.

Program director and grant administrator Heather Ohaneson, an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, was inspired to launch the program after witnessing the success of a similar initiative as a student advisor at Columbia University.

“I had the privilege of working as a gradu-ate 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 says.

All of the students’ expenses – including tuition, room and board, books, and program-ming (guest speakers and extracurricular events) – are covered by Teagle Foundation funding. The grant, to be distributed over three years, will fund the program annually through 2023.