May 20 – Promises Fulfilled

by Kali’ Rourke

In 2007, my husband Dan and I had an idea that would change our lives.

We had created a scholarship program for single mothers with dependent children at our local community college, funded by an endowment created by Dan’s parents. It was helping mothers start new lives after death, divorce or loss of their partner through other circumstances and we had created it with my mother’s experiences as a single mother with little education in mind.

I knew that if something like that had been available for her, our lives could have been changed for the better.

Success is empowering, and after years of reading the application letters and thank you letters from these women, it occurred to us to think of another group of people we could assist in a similar way.

I was President of the Board of Directors of the Seedling Foundation, and we had started a mentoring program a couple of years before that pairs highly trained and supported community volunteers with schoolchildren who have a parent in prison. Seedling’s Promise serves Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade primarily, although the matches are supported through high school.

Dan and I thought, “What if we gave scholarships at the end of middle school?”

Would it make a difference if these children entered high school with a college scholarship already in their back pocket? Would they see themselves differently? Would others see them differently?

Seedling has been giving $5,000 scholarships to 8th graders since 2007 and our second group of Seedling Graduates will take us up on our promise this month as they graduate from their high schools and proceed to their universities.

Our mentored students often have many obstacles to overcome and we follow them through their high school journey.

One of our graduates last year was not on target to graduate when we checked on her progress as a junior. She was a young woman with incredible challenges and we knew it would be difficult for her, but our Executive Director spoke with her high school, reminding them that she was a scholarship winner and that it was within her reach with their help. Her high school counseled her, enrolled her in additional classes and shepherded her in a way that resulted in her graduation and her acceptance and enrollment in our local community college. We don’t believe that would have happened without the advocacy and support she received.

This year, another of our graduates was having challenges and again, our Executive Director stepped in and worked with his high school to make sure he was on track to graduate. He caught fire and will not only graduate, but has been accepted to two universities and is auditioning for an Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Does a scholarship, awarded on entry to high school, make a difference?

Only time will tell, but the first years of the Seedling College Scholarships have a 100% success rate and we are so proud of our young graduates.

On May 16, 2012: Promises…fulfilled!

Kali’ is a proud Mom, Wife, Philanthropist, Semi-Pro Board Member, Genealogist, Geek and Diva. She believes in being a force for positive change in Austin, Texas…in ways both big and small.

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7 responses to “May 20 – Promises Fulfilled

  1. I teach high school. Expectations make a difference. Yours is a great idea and appears to be working. It may not work for everyone, but if the community works together, it does help.

  2. Kudos to you and your husband, Kali. Reading about your foundation inspires me to consider ways I can make a difference in the lives of children. Not everyone can create a foundation as you have but we can read to children, become mentors, volunteer at schools, and a plethora of other things to make a difference in the life of a child. From one seed…..

  3. Bravo! Touching and inspiring story.

  4. Thanks everyone! We didn’t create a foundation, we just joined an existing one that was making a difference in our large, urban, public school district. That allowed us to leverage the amount we could do in a big way, but you are right, Linda, none of this can happen without great volunteers!

  5. face what you know

    Inspiring, thank you Kali! I need to rethink my donation policy and this sounds just right.

  6. Wonderful, Kali’, really wonderful. great story.

  7. Pingback: Promises Fulfilled « Kali's OQM Musings

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