"Oh, yeah, they’re going to college,” says Drego Little with a smile. The incoming class of Rainier Scholars knows that if they continue to work hard: “Anything is possible!” says founder Bob Hurlbut.
And if they continue, to do ALL the things that’s expected from them: “If they take the right courses, if they turn the assignments in on time and if they’re doing their very best, we will help them navigate the road to higher education. And they’ll get there, “says Hurlbut.
They’ll get there when so many other low income minorities don’t. The numbers might depress you. Only 40 percent of African Americans go to college. It’s even lower for Hispanics, only one out of three.
Bob Hurlbut started Rainier Scholars to improve those numbers in our community to help low-income minority children get into college. If you go to the Rainier Scholars Web site at rainierscholars.org, you’ll see these words on the homepage.
"Everyone deserves the chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them. We open doors to education for promising students of color, providing a pathway to college graduation and creating future community leaders."
The program gives students of color, mentoring, tutoring, counseling from the minute they’re accepted. They go to summer school before sixth grade and the summer after sixth grade.
The Rainier Scholars, about 50 students a year, give up their Saturdays, and Wednesday afternoons, that first year, to exercise their minds. That's after attending their respective middle schools.
"The biggest myth about our kids is that they’re little geniuses. No, they’re serious kids willing to work hard ‘till they get it right. And that’s pretty much all you need,” says Drego Little.
The sacrifices, the hard work eventually pay off. Big time!
That first group in 2002--now college freshmen- are living the dream:
“100 percent. 40 out of 40 students were accepted to 4 year institutions,” says Bob Hurlbut.
That first group is back in town for winter break. They had a reunion at Jillians in Seattle Tuesday night. A lot of laughs and hugs sprinkled with nostalgia. These 18 and 19 year olds are grateful to the program.
“They believe in us and challenged us,“ says Anthony Green, a freshman at Occidental College, and a Rainier Scholar.
"Rainier Scholars makes you realize at a young age that your future is important, and you have to work hard to obtain the future that you always dreamed about as a little kid, says Tiesa Mcelroy, a freshman at Knox College, and a Rainier Scholar.
It’s a dream come true for these teenagers. But the dream of going to college doesn’t happen just like that.
“It’s about the work,” says founder Bob Hurlbut.
And that work has paid off. Big time!