“Welcome to our first community hour,” Executive Director Kate Fenneman Stokes said into the Zoom meeting one afternoon in late April, “this is an update on what we’ve been doing and how our students are.” Then she and Senior Director Anna Antoniak went on to bring viewers, many of them longtime supporters of Scholarship Plus, up to date.
Even as the worlds around us were changing, Scholarship Plus found ways to go ahead with the selection of our 11th class. Selection panels narrowed down the application pool using Zoom conferences. The 28 finalists who passed through this process were then individually interviewed by a panel of seven Scholarship Plus staff members and volunteers over the course of a week. Early the following week the 15 students chosen for the award gathered for the traditional first meeting of the class – but this time the meeting was virtual, and the new scholars met one another on the screens of their cell phones, tablets and computers.
The first year of college is always one of challenges, exploration and adjustments. For Rebecca, a freshman at New York Institute of Technology’s Columbus Circle campus, there have been special challenges and opportunities, both of which caused her to turn to the staff at Scholarship Plus for advice. Before her freshman year was over, she learned that she had won a coveted summer internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
When Muhammad first came to Brooklyn from Pakistan as a 10-year-old, he spoke no English. So he regularly went to the Coney Island Boardwalk, striking up conversations with anyone who would talk with him in order to learn the language. In high school he widened his horizons by signing up for the swimming and bowling teams, though he knew neither how to swim nor how to bowl, as well as for the chess club, though he didn’t know how to play the game. That sense of challenging himself to succeed in ever-widening worlds has continued as he nears graduation — with a year of study in London as part of his record — and prepares to enter the world of finance.
A frigid wind was blowing on West 88th Street on the evening of this year’s Winter Gathering, but inside the brownstone that has been central to Scholarship Plus from the beginning, the warmth, whether measured in degrees of Fahrenheit or by the decibel level of happy greetings and laughter, was welcoming. Scholars, graduates, members of the Associate Board, donors and staff members eddied through the rooms in a happy swirl of conversations, introductions and updates.
On his first day at Amherst, Tony Jack wondered to himself, “Where are the other poor black students?” That question, he said, eventually led him to write “The Privileged Poor – How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students,” published earlier this year by Harvard University Press. Along the way he graduated with honors from Amherst in 2007, then earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Harvard, where he is now a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows and an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education.
Watch our executive director, Kate Fenneman Stokes, Cornell junior Absetou, and Vassar alumnus Sino talk about Scholarship Plus and their college journeys on Up Close with Bill Ritter.
The Summer Gathering this year marked a milestone. And it included a number of surprises.
The experts knew what they were talking about, and at the annual College Transition Day they commanded the engagement of a classroom full of scholars about to head off to campuses for the first time. Some experts were Scholarship Plus staff members, some were Scholarship Plus upperclassmen, some were new friends brought in to share hard-won experiences and insights. Advice included the necessarily practical – time management skills, the mysteries and opportunities of the syllabus document – but extended to the deep insights of a psychologist whose specialty is helping people of color recognize – and blunt – microaggressions rooted in racism.
It was an evening of dinner and the theater for this summer’s scholars on a rainy day at the end of July. In both, there was more on the table than might be seen at first glance.
To Google is usually an individual action, but late one afternoon this summer’s scholars all went Googling as a group. Joined by scholars who are upperclassmen at Dartmouth and Colgate, we went through a set of doors at Google’s massive — it occupies a complete city block in Chelsea — New York City headquarters, and into the two-floor complex of the Grow with Google Learning Center. The bright and airy facility is envisioned as the company’s outreach to its neighbors, offering free classes throughout the day tailored for businesses, educators, entrepreneurs and students. Subjects cover everything from fundamentals of online coding to using digital tools, “Build a Compelling Presentation” and creating a resume.
Photograph by Matt Stokes Photography
When our group of scholars stepped off the elevators at the offices of the Battery Conservancy at One Wall Street, we were greeted by Warrie Price, its president and founder, who directed us first to the staff lounge for a quick look out its 17th-floor windows. Below us spread the park and its 195,000 square feet of gardens, then New York Harbor, busy with boats of all sizes, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Soon we would be aboard one of those boats, on the way to the Statue, then returning to the park and a ride on its magical Seaglass Carousel.
The first of the midweek outings for Scholars this year began with a tour of a biannual exhibition at the Whitney Museum that traditionally “takes the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment,” and ended with what has become a Scholarship Plus tradition — ice cream on the High Line, just outside the museum.
It isn't easy holding centuries-old institutions mired in tradition accountable, but that is precisely what Joselyn, a first-year student interested in Biomedical Engineering and Studio Art at Dartmouth College, is doing.
“When they come into my office,” Mylasha says, “it’s the first time they have talked about going to college.”
It's that time of year again!
Join us on October 2nd at Sons of Essex (6:30pm- 9pm) for an open bar, hor d’oeuvres, laughs, and a good time - all to support our amazing scholars.
Limited tickets! Buy your tickets today, here. You wouldn't want to miss this!
The Summer Gathering brings Scholarship Plus students, alumni and supporters together for a relaxed evening of conversation and catching up. Traditionally held during the last week of internship for scholars at WNYC, it also marks the end of the working summer, and the beginning of preparations to head back to campus. This year it was held in a space overlooking Trinity Church downtown. The evening began with a generous spread of Mexican food, included a series of one-line bits of advice from alumni and current upperclassmen to the new class, and wound down to the strains of music chosen by a DJ — and dancer — who is on his way to Skidmore.
Practical advice from college experts — including upperclass Scholarship Plus students and alumni — brought ten new scholars together for a day of exploring new worlds of possibilities. Topics included time management, dealing with stress, imposter syndrome, taking advantage of opportunities and reaching out for help. At the end of the day, scholars were asked to write down specific intentions for the year ahead.
It was a working lunch that will long stay with the scholars who shared pizza on tables set up in a conference room at ProPublica, a decade-old organization dedicated to the challenging work of investigative journalism. Our host was Scholarship Plus supporter and mentor, Ginger Thompson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize when she was at The New York Times and a finalist this year for the National Magazine Award for her account of Drug Enforcement Agency led operations that played a role in massacres by Mexican drug cartels. ProPublica has reinforced the techniques of investigative journalism with groundbreaking innovations in design, ongoing engagement with readers, free distribution of its work, and training of journalists from organizations with which it partners – all explained to us by almost a dozen of Ginger’s colleagues.
Scholarship Plus was thrilled to collaborate with another NYC-based college support program, Rocking the Boat. Our two groups came together on the Bronx River for a row and discussion on the all-important topic of how to ask for help.
This year, through the generosity of a partner at TKTS, Scholarship Plus was able to access affordable tickets to one of the year’s hit musicals, Carousel. But first: a restaurant outing to a cozy Mediterranean nook downtown for a conversation around best practices in dining out. This new program was piloted so that when our scholars embark on lunch meetings with internship hosts or dinners with roommates’ families, they can focus more on the conversation, and less on the right place for napkins.
Current students and recent alumni took a trip to Illyria on a clear summer’s night in Central Park, for the Shakespeare in the Park staging of “Twelfth Night.” Before they took their seats, arriving audience members were welcome to come up on the stage, joining the crowd in front of the palace for a street fair. When the play began, a very large cast lit up the stage with a new musical version of Shakespeare’s comedy.
On a beautiful summer afternoon seven of our scholars embarked on a – largely waterborne – visit to the roots of New York City, and of the nation. Hosted by Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, they learned about the transformation of the Battery itself, then boarded ship for visits to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Before going up the gangplank to the Statue of Liberty boat, though, there was a stop at one of the Battery’s newest attractions, the SeaGlass Carousel, for a virtual ride under the sea.
This year, our annual private peek into the Whitney Museum's exhibits led us a to theme of connecting to places, including New York scenes from over the century. But what would a trip to the Meatpacking District be without ice cream on the High Line? We couldn't resist.
Our biggest night of the year was the biggest so far. On June 11, an audience of 200 gathered in New York University’s Grand Hall to welcome the ten members of the ninth Scholarship Plus class, bringing our total number of scholars to 64. After gathering over some light refreshments, scholars, families, graduates and friends of the program — new and old — moved into the auditorium for a ceremony in which the latest class was introduced, and they in turn each introduced his or her Teacher Who Makes a Difference. At the end of the ceremony, the just-graduated members of our most recent class of college graduates were introduced, most of whom were with us, while others were shown in photographs.
2017 scholar Nogaye and new staff member Anna interviewed each other to help you get to know them both. Here is what they learned...
"The pods, as the donor groups are known, offer a rare opportunity to collaborate closely with friends in an enterprise that is uniquely hopeful. Sometimes, the experience brings with it an unexpected gift — the chance to get to know a remarkable young person and to witness their progress into adult life."
The 2018 Winter Gathering continued the feeling of connectedness — among scholars, staff and supporters — that has been part of the Scholarship Plus vision from the beginning. But there were also new elements this year, including the introduction of new staff members and the honoring of an individual who has been central to our foundation and growth.
Please join us Monday, September 18, in celebrating the launch of Scholarship Plus' inaugural Associate Board. This year, Scholarship Plus achieved our goal of providing college scholarships and support to ten students, and we are on a mission to reach 20 students per year. We have launched the Associate Board to help with long-term growth, and to bring the energy of passionate individuals to our organization.
Come celebrate with us in support of equal access to education for low-income scholars, and network with professionals from around the city.
Networking // Free beer • wine • food until 8:30pm // Raffle
Purchase your tickets here!