After high school, I felt a true calling to attend a private Christian college. But coming from a single-parent home and living in a trailer, it was a stretch for me to be able to afford a school like Palm Beach Atlantic College. (Side note – Palm Beach Atlantic did not receive university status until after I graduated, so all past references refer to PBA College.) Though my mom worked hard for our family and wanted to see me succeed, like many families, we had limited funds available for college tuition. As I attended community college and worked a full time sales job, the dream of finishing my undergraduate degree at a private Christian school slowly started to slip away.
During the fall of 1996, I researched scholarship opportunities and decided that I was going to take the necessary steps to achieve my goal. Over the course of the following months, I applied to Palm Beach Atlantic College, was accepted for the spring semester and prepared to make the big move. The university provided scholarships and helped me through the financial aid process, making it affordable for me to enroll. The largest gift I received that enabled me to start at PBA was from the Ted/Vivian Johnson Foundation Scholarship. (Side note- I wrote Ted/Vivian Johnson Foundation Scholarship because that’s exactly how it is printed on my student account record that I recently pulled to review.) I continued to receive that same gift for the following few semesters.
At PBA, I met faculty members who cared about me and my future, and I met some of the very best friends I still have today. I also met my future wife, Rachel, at PBA, and we have been married now for almost 20 years. I grew spiritually, too. Through lots of prayer and perseverance, I graduated in 1999 with a clear plan for my future career in banking and non-profit fundraising. Fast forward 20 years, and I am now working for PBA as Director of Alumni Relations.
Students are concerned about the affordability of college tuition and student debt. They want to have clear direction and the ability to get a good job after graduation. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s gifts help students pursue their dreams, and I believe Palm Beach Atlantic University plays a huge role in shaping their futures. PBA and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation certainly did that for me.
Steve Eshelman is Director of Alumni Relations at Palm Beach Atlantic University
https://jsf.bz/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/PBA-campus-shot-horizontal-scaled.jpg14212560Angie Francalancia/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jsf-logo-300-125.pngAngie Francalancia2021-04-29 15:11:272021-04-29 15:40:50A Johnson Scholar Comes Full-Circle
What TikTok users who dispute her accomplishments can learn about disability inclusion
After TikTok users spent the past year spreading viral conspiracies labeling Helen Keller as a fraud, the first film to star an actor who is deafblind is up for an Oscar. “Feeling Through,” nominated for Best Live-Action Short, follows the connection that forms between a teenager and a man who is deafblind during a chance meeting late at night in New York City.
The film, as well as the Oscar-nominated documentary “Crip Camp,” beautifully refutes ableist misperceptions that undermine the potential of individuals with disabilities. Those discriminatory beliefs emerged on TikTok last year, when scores of the app’s users ignited a trend denying the long list of achievements Helen Keller accumulated throughout her remarkable life. Their flawed logic concluded that Keller could not have authored books, spoken multiple languages, displayed good handwriting, or graduated from college because she did not have sight or hearing.
Such assumptions are dangerous because they perpetuate the false belief that people with disabilities are less capable of success than their peers. Discrediting their accomplishments can insidiously lower others’ expectations for them — or worse, the expectations they have of themselves.
Dave Power is President and CEO of Perkins School for the Blind
https://jsf.bz/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021_FeelingThroughScene_Perkins-School-.jpg5941024Angie Francalancia/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jsf-logo-300-125.pngAngie Francalancia2021-04-23 19:31:062021-04-23 20:01:01Doubting Helen Keller: Where we go from here
The Elevation Scholars program mines Central Florida’s Title I high schools for students exhibiting the non-profit’s core values of kindness, service, leadership, and discipline. It sets them on a course to become change-makers.
When the organization was in its foundational stages of turning concepts into an education-focused program, it couldn’t have found a better model for the kind of student it wanted to help than its first scholar – Revel Lubin.
Elevation Scholars’ founder learned about him from a news story on the Thanksgiving food drive he and other student government leaders had put together for homeless families of students at his school.
The backstory was the attention-grabber, though. Lubin and three of his siblings were being raised by their sister following their mother’s passing from an aneurysm seven years earlier. He had quit sports to get a job to help his sister pay the bills after their electricity had been cut off. He also happened to be student government president.
Kindness. Service. Leadership. Discipline.
“He had everything we were looking for,” said Scott Lee, Elevation Foundation President. “The only question we didn’t know was did he have the academics.”
He had the grades too, but he lacked the test scores and required classes that colleges typically look for. Helping students develop a “college-going” culture would become a core tenant of Elevation Scholars’ program. The best investment would be money up front – a program that would begin when students are in 9th grade– with high-quality counseling and “intrusive advising and support.”
“We would spend a little money up front, like a down payment, and the colleges would come along and pay them many thousands in scholarships,” Lee says. “If we pick the right kid, this stuff will happen every single time. Those were our early realizations.”
Since its founding in 2013, Elevation Scholars has expanded to working with four Title I high schools where 92 percent of the students are considered low-income. Outreach to students begins with Elevation Club when students are in 9th grade. The monthly club meetings introduce them to everything they’ll need to compete for spots at some of the nation’s most selective universities. Their goal is not just a college education but an education at one of the nation’s top 100 universities – an arena sorely lacking in college applicants who are the first in their families to attend, so-called first-generation college students.
The Elevation Scholar Award is given to select students in their junior year – a five-year investment in the students not only to help them get to college but to guide them while they attend.
“The research is pretty clear,” Lee says. “It’s not the academics that cause first-gen kids not to succeed. It’s the idea of imposter syndrome – they feel like they don’t belong, along with limits on family financial support due to the implications of generational poverty. Little problems are impossible to overcome without outside support.”
The Elevation Scholars Award includes some earmarks not typically found in scholarship awards, like winter clothing – for a Florida kid who might get a full ride to Wake Forrest in North Carolina like the program’s second award winner – or professional clothing for joining professional organizations, travel money to ensure they have the ability to get back home for the holidays, and even gear they’ll need for dorm life. In summers, students will participate in paid internships at businesses and organizations in partnership with Elevation Scholars.
Over the next four years, Elevation Scholars, a new grantee partner of Johnson Scholarship Foundation, expects to expand into four additional schools and award 92 additional Elevation Scholar Awards by 2025.
To win an Elevation Scholar Award, it’s more than a matter of high achieving and high need, Lee says. The students selected also must exhibit Elevation Scholars’ core values – kindness, service, leadership, and discipline. “These kids have a unique set of strengths, and already are demonstrating positive community impact, and that’s really what we’re investing in,” Lee says. “The idea is ultimately to see our investment increase their capacity to impact their community.”
Since the program’s founding, seven cohorts of scholars have attended prestigious universities across the country. And that first scholar, Revel Lubin, continues the journey he plotted under the guidance of Elevation Scholars. He’s a finalist for Central Floridian of the Year, and he attends Yale Divinity School.
“It’s amazing how many high-achieving leaders there are at our Title I schools,” Lee says.
Angie Francalancia is a communications specialist with Johnson Scholarship Foundation
https://jsf.bz/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Elevation-Scholars-group-shot-scaled.jpg17072560Angie Francalancia/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jsf-logo-300-125.pngAngie Francalancia2021-04-06 21:44:282021-04-06 21:44:28High Need, High Achievement and Core Values are Keys to Developing Change-Makers