It’s an exciting time for the HEAR Foundation: our class of scholars is due to reach the 50 mark by the next application cycle; we have new mentors from new areas of life, and as of this year’s 10th Anniversary HEAR Holiday Fundraiser we are branching off a separate public 501 (c)3, the HEAR Scholarship Foundation. This new structure is going to allow us to grow and nourish the wonderful scholarship program that we have established over the last few years. One of the best things about it is also what makes the HEAR scholarship so special: our focus on mentoring and community. Beyond giving each of our scholars a significant financial scholarship, we provide a community of support within the HEAR Family and mentorship for each of our scholars. Each scholar is paired with a college-educated mentor soon after they are awarded their scholarship. This mentor serves as a resource for our scholars throughout their college career and beyond. Very few scholarship programs offer as high a level of personal investment in every scholar as the HEAR Foundation.
Heading off to college can be intimidating. There are new living arrangements, often a new town, new time management challenges, and study and work schedules all need to be figured out by the student. The structure of classes and the interaction of professors with the students can be drastically different from high school. Many of our scholars are one of the first in their family to attend college. As you’d expect, they are all self-motivated, high achieving individuals and great problems solvers (that is part of why they were chosen), but we at HEAR want to make sure that they have a leg up on their college careers. First generation students generally do not have a close resource to ask about general college experiences, and this is where are our mentors come in. They are there to help the scholars work through challenges, let them know that they are not alone, and provide answers and insights from their personal college experiences. HEAR Mentors also provide coaching, emotional support, guidance in seeking out resources on college and course selection, career advice, and connections to internships. The more our scholars feel supported, the more likely it is that they will successfully graduate from college. The HEAR foundation has a 100% graduation rate, and the mentors and the entire HEAR Family play an important role.
As the number of HEAR scholars grows, we are examining how to provide even more support for our scholars through workshops on interviewing, networking for internships, developing a list of professional contacts for our scholars to use as a resource as well as fostering relationships and support systems among the scholars themselves. We are developing cohorts among the scholars and connecting scholars who attend the same college. We are also networking with many of the local organizations that provide support during the high school years. Finally, in 2017 we will focus on how best to support our mentors and provide information and research to aid them in their role. I am very excited about all the growth in the HEAR Scholarship Program and glad to be a part of it!
HEAR Chair of Mentoring Training and Support