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Marathon Scholars 101517

Oct 11, 2017|

AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE WASSERBERGER AND BROOKE ADAMS WITH MARATHON SCHOLARS ABOUT THE WORK THEY DO WITH UNDER-RESOURCED CHILDREN TO MAKE THEIR WAY THROUGH COLLEGE.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is a microscope in Entercom radio Portland public affairs program under Luxor. The mission a marathon scholars is to bring together caring adults intelligent under resource children to make the dream of college degrees a reality. And on the program this time I would like to welcome Steve watt server executive director with the marathon scholars. Also Brooke Adams Brooke is the director of college programs with mirror phones colors on the show. Thank you make you happier things here thanks for having us and we're thrilled to introduce your audience and scholars let's do it that's what is marathon scholars tell me all about it. We'll marathon is about lifting kids out of poverty. Through education. We give these kids the opportunity of a lifetime. To break the cycle of poverty. We recruit. Highly motivated. Low income first chair and college to purchase me students who was fired go to college and we recruit them in the fourth grade and we journey them all the way through and college to college degree. We. We're independent for the long haul why inning marathon two marathon journey. And we're aware of these kids threw for all kinds of experiences coaching them and so forth we're ruin wanna see them succeed and walk across the stage for them. Earned their college degree that's the first thing that came to my mind when it was during a little bit of research about doing this interview is it seems like there's a really great long term commitment. To a student's life is Eric. Yes there absolutely. We'll get into a little bit more than detailing later on that's fourth grade as a as a key year and the development of a child. And that's why we and a leaner we are being in the fourth grade how is it child identified in the fourth. And so we recruit out of two schools currently in Portland to low income schools and we focus on recruiting students whose parents have not been to college before and so. We work with these schools to help the students and the teacher or help the teachers identify. Students who have met their third grader reading score students who are participating in class and those students that we know would it. Typically be ready for college but because of systemic barriers in their education they wouldn't typically get there and so we helped recruit a student into the program. And then after a marathon tellers we match them with the mentor we provide them with enrichment program mean and follow them all the way like Stevens had a cross check recognition stage. What's the what's the have been. What's happening in the fourth grade that that's that's the prime time we'll fourth grade is when no weak and receive their third grade reading scores in third grade reading scores are though. One test in which we the I know that if the student is green. At level at third grade and also pass in their math and meeting and their math level grades in their grade. And they are more likely to be ready in 189 grade. Two. Meet. Those enrollment scores and then also go onto college. And Newt. I wanna Canada yet yes please. Wanting to about fourth grade is this is when students really. First start to see themselves you know what what's possible they start thinking about. How they see themselves in a career need to elect a teacher what have you I wanna be accomplished what I don't exactly. I mean I go back I think about it in fourth grade is the first time I thought about. What I wanted to be I wanna be a scientist. Course that changes a hundred times hit a circular but this is an at an age where were these kids release for a start tonight. Sees things and they sort conceptualize college. It's truly perfect that's a magical time. To intervene and third grade when we recruit in the fourth grade after we are seeing those are Gregory and scores we know that there are going to be opportunity gaps among our first and low income students. And we want to eight get into their system and in their life before they certain media knows opportunity gap so that they have a mentor to that they have advisors to our program. To help then jumped those hurdles and faced those barriers that are typically going to stand in front of their education. So that we can get them to enter college. Tell me about the mentors who who are these mentors. They are there medical people they kind of art but you know what I first wanna say that it's not hard and anyone can do it for so our mentors are just carrying adults that want to build the long term relationship with the scholar. And the help or scholar at different ages with different tasks so our scholar you know my called mentor and fifth grade and talk about I'm dealing with the school bully. Or in junior high they might talk about you know my body's changing and this is weird. Starting to date for the first time or maybe in high school they're talking about you know how do I choose a college and their mentor can really guide them. As a friend and not as apparent so are. Scholars Ari have phenomenal parents cared deeply about them but they need another caring adult in their life that they can go to that is committed to them for the long term. And is passionate about their success and that helps build their college going identity. And so it's we talk with our scholars about when you go to college not if you go to college. And that's really unique about our mantra so all of our mentors have graduated college. And that allow o.s are scholars to have an adult in their life that knows what it takes to get there in get through college because their parents. Haven't done that yet. So hopefully someday they will. But they haven't yet as our parents and can't really advise our scholars on how to get there by our parents want our scholars to get there are scholars want to get there so would provide that extra turn adult and knows how to navigate the system. So I don't think it's those kind of imagining these mentors being some delicate tutor but they're not really it's not really an educational. Not at all no that's and common misperception of what our mentors Diaw and it's just been caring adult and friend to these students. Whenever they needed. An example of one of our mentors went to Pakistan not the other day from employers a few months ago from school and they had this grand plan. Where they're gonna go on the screen adventure after school and all of these things in the same kind of got in the car and the mantra notice that she was just a little downtrodden and was having a rough day and she's like what's going on. And seems like can we just please just driver around I don't wanna I don't go out and do anything I don't in public. The state hadn't had any time to themselves and what you know what they said we're weeks and they just won't it be. Alone with another Karen adult and talking the mentor Collison to that they drove around for two to three hours just talking. And that it was a miraculous extras for the mentor has it was that opportunity for the scholarship open up. That's that opportunity for the scholar to sit down and have some and just focus on them and just care about how they're doing how they're case kind. And it's really we focused on that horizontal relationship instead of that vertical relationship I don't have parents. They're the ones that are going to be put the rolls down four but with earth. Our mentors are scholars it's all about have an caring adult friend that you can look up to it that you can trust they could open up to they'll always be there for you. Profile for me the perfect mentor or important meeting at the perfect mentor but somebody who fits the profile of being a good mentor a good mentor some of the shows up. Someone that is dedicated to the success of a student a lot of our mentors who really care about education and care about the students. Access and opportunities that. The outcome that they have in front of them you know some of our mentors are the first in their family to go to college and they know how hard it is. To get through college when you don't have anyone to call home and ask questions you. Some of our mentor is recognized that had extreme privilege and their great grandparents went to college they wanna help everyone access college. And so it's really just a caring adult who can make it commitment to show up. And that is not showing up daily you're not a parent it's really easy to show up once marked for a memo for hours and interact with that student. For a minimum of four years so we do ask a long term commitment government tours or four years we want used to commit to the state and showing up. But also not just showing up in person but be open to communication on the downtime. So if your mentor is trying to for soccer in the sixth ratio the text say hey how to try ask a if you know they're going after school delete a role in schools and high school encourage and the night before their audition but also be there to answer questions okay. My parents only have a third grade match you know literacy level. And I mean six straight I don't get this do you think she could sit down and may be walking through this so sometimes it is tutoring but that's not the main thing of our mentors and tormentors are just open to being there. For the students. Whenever and for whatever comes up. Hasn't hit in losing to this is that it's a two way street. The mantra gets as much out of it as clemency. There are things that the manager is gonna learn from from their scholar. Particularly if they come from a different. Culture or they come from different socio economic place they're gonna learn things from that scholar. I happen to man sure a young kind gentleman who's in seventh grade now. And I leave those meetings and I come away learning something every time I'm with him and appreciate things in him. And also appreciate things in my life you know when I look at some of the barriers and things that he has to overcome that I didn't. And so. The route works both ways it's incredibly rewarding have you been with the scholar since the fourth grade I have I have so that as a mentor you stay with them the whole course. Well as Brooks and as much as you can't you if you commit for four years but if you wanna keep that relationship going because. For all kinds of reasons which are enjoying at me and you wanna see you wanna see that student succeed. A minute for personal element of the long haul how owns him historians. I would imagine that's that's part of the joy of doing that is the curiosity of how file historians exactly exactly. But you know things come up in people's lives. Life life happens orders you know transfers or can be health issues. So asking for a longer commitment is tough. And if if someone does fulfill their obligation of four years there's proper ways of ending that relationship so everybody's on the same patient does and feels good about it and in bringing on a new manager. So in some regards a student could have two or three mantras through their journey which is also plus because it exposes them to different. Different opportunities different different perspectives. Are mentors with scholars multiple scholars to timers are really focused on one scholar aside. So we have mentors I wanna take on multiple scholars especially when their mentoring are older scholars and say that there scholars away at college maybe they'll be available to speak to two or three scholars at a time. Because the scholars only in Portland you know say they come back from Georgetown early Portland during holidays in the summer so they can take on multiple means he's at the time. But typically it's a one on one stick your relationship and we're very choosy and how we match against him even though it may have a pipeline. Intersect yes I would meshes with mentors and so even though we may have a pipeline of mentors we're not to scan and match anyone. Just because we have. Mentors available we're gonna have really interview that meant currency what are their interest and what are their skill sets. And how will they match with our students' interest in skill sets to we need an injured her the next sugar orange river with an introvert. We just mash whenever students who is an extreme introvert. And we matched him with another male introvert so that he can see that even though he's calm and reserved he too can make it into business world that. His skill set those different is very unique and worthy. You must have some pretty awesome success stories right we do and I did. I get so excited to talk about him. And I feel like they're not shared enough I'm constantly trying to find ways to share our success story is because I get really really jazzed about him. How many do you want as we leave you feeling given me. Alina sometimes the success stories are really big you know one of our scholars just graduated college. From the University of Portland and she is often she will she got accepted to dental school. But now she is wonder she instead wants to go to much school maybe she sold herself short so. We hooked her up when a few doctors' and dentist at LA just you to talk. That were just kind of in our program is mentors and she decided you know what I'm no good dental school on hold I'm gonna play and that's cool this year so. She is a success story and that she's gonna gonna Mets goal and we are so proud of her and excited. The tiny success stories are really what gets me excited that tiny things I would normally do you real student. That happen every day that people don't realize happen when your parents haven't gone to college needs don't know how to navigate this really complex system. I had a student call me last spring I was out running with my dog I had my head on tonight answer my phone. As I hit about what's gone on all of my students have myself a number in case it ever this emergency when they're answering their email to 9 PM he's like well. I know we've worked really hard on transferring schools us term. But I want to let you know that they dropped my classes and I have to drop out and us like it went tell me more and I scandalous and I was like no actually. You know you don't have to drop out just because your form wasn't processed on time you signed it on time everything got in there on time they often stand. Process union got dropped electronically from their classes as a tonight he go home you write all your professors and say dear professor. I'm really excited about taking a class I was electronically dropped but I'm gonna work to make sure that all my paper gets signed and turned and and is in order to that I can get re register for your class I look forward to getting a good grade which you and he did that all of us professors. Responded really well it's a great let me know if you need help. We analyst paper subtlety or re register on time. Did phenomenal in his classes and had a successful terms. Those little things happen every day with our scholars because when they call home. From their parents don't notice say. No it's okay you can. You know the squeaky wheel gets the grease you can fight this that there are ways around this are ways to navigate this. And a lot of times are students get stuck it in the cycle of poverty in that cycle is. Where people tell you the deadlines in if you need it or you don't. You have you have no control really a lot after after you've met your deadline you're constantly told no or yes he'll have a lot of control and that. What I tell my students as I say it once you get to campus you've got to act like the rich kit. You've got to demand things like your pain for this service. Because you are you are customer of this university you deserve the same treatment just like anyone else is painful tuition. And when they learn to advocates for themselves like that through our college prep classes start college bridge classes. It is phenomenal to see them. Go to college. And succeeded just like their peers when we know statistically they wouldn't be crossing my graduation stage. You suddenly you're probably an amazing mentor I say hello. Oh shoot I really really love countryside mentor. I've been entries in 2010 and my home state. And I just moved here I have. Kind of taken on a few students entering college just because their mentors can you let them full time onsite chicken occasionally but because I'm a service provider I'd try. Not to take on students in our program but I do love mentoring. I am sure she racial college student and I know how hard it is we can't call home to say mom what's the difference between a verse are registrar. What is a promissory note come how to write take out the right loan how'd I do this or that. It is extremely hard and there were times when I was an undergrad and grad school. And I sat in my advisors office or my mentors officer asset I'm gonna quit I can't do the Seymour I don't belong here and they said. No you're not yes you do. You'd you do belong here and you're not quitting let's figure out what obstacle you're having a difficult time overcoming pain and let's do it together. And I know that with Al those people I would've been the first to graduate college my family and then I would have gone onto be the first with a master's degree. And it's extremely important for me to get back to our community. And I it's amazing to see our scholars doing the same that our scholars our. You know if we go to take a college trip to the university of or again. We got scholars there alike come and meet our younger scholars that where it's I'm torn campus and it's really phenomenal to see our scholars. Morning appreciate in this program wanted to get back to it. What sort of ripple effect freezing you with this would like going from the student back into their family oh my gosh I just had the most phenomenal experience with that. We we do see as we see it it I'll tell you personal story that we see that this siblings of our scholars who are going to college are also starting to think well we'll if they can do it. We can do it. We had a college bridge class this summer is the first time we've ever had and so. We are bridging our seniors who have been accepted to college onto campus teaching them everything they need to know. Before they get their so when they can't call home. That hopefully they're armed with that knowledge before before they step on campus and if they don't again they have their mentors amber and have my numbers. But I took a scholar to campus I was really nervous or even after the bridge where she felt. That she still wasn't ready she was really. A decisive on if this campus was finished his cardiovascular pressure there's going to be too big for it to. Too much stress and so I said you know what let's just go up a week early. Let's go toward the campus let me walk around with you so we drove up one day and we had a great day on campus we. She was and philosophy classes are 300 level and has like hon you don't need to be entry level ethics courses let's get into some really cool classes and so we worked with are scheduled to cater and to this freshman interest group where she's taking classes that are smaller and better with the same students as to build those relationships. And and she's taking its should demand feminist courses and she sent me this text the other day that made me so happy. And she finally got to campus and I'm sitting in my desk after. You know taking her all around campus and helping her navigate this in just really watching her advocates for herself and teaching her how to do that and teaching her that. People at this university care about her success in everyone's cheering for her. She sent me this and said hey Brett so and this is a text from her hey Rex I'm working on my first paper for women and gender studies and. Their green is titled believing as seen and it's so interesting I am really excited for this class. It just discusses how differently the socialize and able bodied men and women develop depending on their chromosome combinations. I've never been more excited to read and write my butt off while expanding my mind double exclamation point. In discussing everything with others and I love the library here so quiet and motivated and so happy college is easily going to be. Though one of the best decisions I've ever maker myself. And so pumped for ethnic studies and I said Stephanie. This is amazing in this Cindy similar article jury deemed. You are such a brilliant on and I can't wait to watch you go through college and she she said thank you. I'll Duffy that listening image here also I can't wait to grow in college I face time to my little brother yesterday. Who doesn't wanna go to college and told him why he shed so many possibilities. Oh my goodness double exclamation point and it's just sitting on my desk on Monday morning I get to receive that text message of watching the ripple effect of one student. Shiny and being the first in her family and bust your butt to do that and Oliver siblings are gonna watch her do that watch her succeed in watcher. Work. But also enjoy aids or warts from her work in she can be there to coach them with her knowledge but you know what. Even though we work with just our scholars marathons scholars works with all of the family members of our scholars so even though scholars only have a scholarship with us. We work with siblings so I've gone to many coffees with parents and siblings and said you also want to go to college great year and your junior year high school this is what you need to be doing. You're gonna get if you've. Anyone wants to come our college shores everyone is welcome we make sure that we're inviting. Mom and dad anyone in the house siblings cousins. If anyone wants to come see what college wife has a lot is like we're gonna provide free transportation Britain and knocked down the barriers of access to that college campuses say we'll feed you we'll take you we will educate you will even get free interpretation for parents or siblings. That don't speak English. We will make sure that you understand everything you need to know for everyone in your Finley to succeed. Today you guys doing some work its alas I get a little carried away and that's also. So everybody can hear Brooks enthusiasm and passion certain and she's as director of college programming shoes. Involved with the older kids and in the program. And likewise we have someone equally as passionate. She's phenomenal she's from launch is our director of youth programs mauling. And Molly works with the fourth graders up through middle of high school before they transition over Brooke. So pars pars students and their families get support from these two amazing. Program managers throughout their whole journey with. Marathon. Yeah and Molly does a really neat job of going into the schools because it. It's a lot easier to access her students when they're all in school at the same times and that it universities all across the United States but she'll go into the school and have lunch with the students and sit down. And say how are you house class in get to know then. Inter you know just show them personally and say I care about you marathon cares about you are used senior mentor regularly. How is everything are you attending says she checks in on attendance she checks in on grades. She was at a school lunch last year when all of a sudden whenever scholarship started to cry and she tickers are actually quotes up honey come. You seemed really stress in the sky disclosed that. In life was tumultuous she and her mom had just. Become homeless. And this guy was really afraid to tell anyone but open up tamale answer all right well. Now let's give you resources and Molly was able to work with the school in with the scholars mentor to make sure that the education of our scholar. Was not interrupted and to make sure that that Yemen was able to access services and so. Even though we aren't educational. Nonprofit a lot of what we do so short and it's a lot of fun to help our families navigate systems and overcome barriers and watch them succeed. Just like we know that they can't. That's his awesome so Brooke. And you know we. Just talked about us being educational program we're we're we're really scaffolding supports the kid through their educational journey even both mauling him Brooke. Have master's in social work. And I think that brings an incredibly unique plans to the work we do because we're dealing with. Not only poverty but different cultures. Whether whether immigrants refugees were there is cyclical poverty you know people who have been here mired in poverty for a long time. The they understand a lot of the root causes and they can also provide resources because we can't be everything to everybody. And so we don't we focus on our on our mantra ship our scholarship and R&R Richmond programs. But if something gets in the way of one of these students these two phenomenal women can point him in the right direction and and can provide resources for. So you personally were kind of running out of time but in we have a fund raiser coming up and you don't want to talk about that because that's that's good stuff too and powerlessness can get involved sure. So November 4. We have rally on the risers. And this is a friendly competition among three choirs. And supporting marathon scholar switching is going to be a really fun events. We have Bridgetown sound. Which is like a barber shop. Quartet and he's from more than four of them hum there's the Portland interfaith gospel choir. And that speaks for itself gospel music and can teco singers. The two rather pick pick like Dick range of genres from classic to pop to jazz. And we just wanted to have a fun evening when these choirs. Sort of battling out trying their John Rheinecker X you know exposing choir music Tutu or to a broad audience and building awareness for marathon this is this is just. To get people in the room. Meet some of our scholars listen to some great music and and learn about our program. You could say it's of people and it's more information so if you go to a marathon scholars dot org. On our home page you'll see a link to rally on the risers you click on that. And and you had purchased tickets tickets range from 29 to 37 dollars. And if we obviously hope to. Image told that a moneys just to support the program but more than anything we want people to have fun enjoyable evening and learn about learn about marathon scholars. This has been super cool thanks so much for introducing meet him marathons. Or smile think you've had in us it is such a joy to share what we do I feel like. We're one of the nonprofit in Portland that is truly changing lives every day in almost every action that we take. And I've never worked for a nonprofit where we took someone and dedicated to changing their life before of always worker organizations at the band aids on things that we say great fourth grader you wanna go to college. You want to change your life for the better you might change your family's life. I'm gonna make a commitment to you I'll follow you until you cross that stage super cool and we transform lives. I'm sure every test of thanks again we conducted it was Steve bluster Berger executive director of marathon scholars and Luke Adams director of college programs also with marathons color slacks and beater. Mitchell's bill is an Entercom radio Portland public affairs program I'm Gary blocks of if you're involved with the nonprofit or public affairs organization or do you have an idea for an upcoming show I'd like to hear from you. Visit the microscope PDX dot com and submit your ideas you can also go to the station's website handsome richer information there. Thanks for listening to Mitchell's go and enjoy the rest of your weekend.