How Can Four Years Last a Lifetime?

Picture a laser beam. Then think of how aiming that laser at your eye, in the hands of an expert, can change your life from coke-bottle glasses to clear vision. One small intervention can change everything — for life.

That’s how Wallin Education Partners functions: one small intervention – a college scholarship of about $4,000 per year — can change one life, for a lifetime. This year Wallin is changing the lives of 540 students and has helped 4,000 students since its creation in 1992.

What does college have to do with the opportunity/achievement gap?

Consider…

·         A college graduate will earn nearly $1M more in his or her lifetime than a high school graduate. Just think about those ripples: that’s more in taxes, less reliance on safety nets and beyond money, better health overall.

·         Likelihood of college graduation goes down if you’re lower income; a person of color; first in the family to go to college. In fact, only 11% of kids who fit that criteria will complete a degree.

·         If you look at top income quartile in the U.S., 77% of those families go to college; in the lowest quartile, only 9% do so.

Clearly a college education plays a major role in equity.

Started by Win Wallin, a former Medtronic CEO and his wife Maxine (a member of the Junior League of Minneapolis and Katherine Phelps award-winner), the organization fulfills his vision to give others the same opportunities he had. The Wallins quickly realized that throwing money at the problem wasn’t the solution. Simply helping more colleges provide more scholarships wouldn’t work. That’s why they “broker” the scholarships so they can both choose kids who need the help and then literally surround each student with support. As in, a master’s level professional who’s there for each student, through all 4 (or 5) years of college.

Another unique component: donor partners, like the Junior League. The scholars know they’re accountable not just to their advisor but also to this partner — in fact they have to report how they’re doing twice a year. (And if you’re curious, our 15 scholars have a 100% graduation rate!)

Who are these scholars? Donor partners can make specific requests (for example JLM sponsors girls who have strong community involvement), but all need a 3.0 grade point average. The vetting process and the support have paid huge dividends: the graduation rate for Wallin scholars is 92% compared to a national average of 59%.

If you want to get involved, email Melissa Burwell (JLM member and Deputy Director) to find out about their Feb 10 meet-up event, and follow them @Wallin_92 or on Facebook. Their 25th gala is coming up this fall.

 

JLM Advocacy: Inspiring members to action

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