In 1992, the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program was created by the State of Indiana, and Fort Wayne was selected to be a pilot city for a support site. At that time, the Wayne Township Trustee Office was chosen to be its host agency, and our duties included overseeing the financial matters and providing professional guidance when needed.
What began as a citywide program flourished into a regional one, now encompassing eight counties in northeastern Indiana. It has grown so much that, like its students, it must move on. In fact, it too is ‘going away to college’, as it has found a new home at the campus of IPFW. I am proud to have been a part of this wonderful program, and when talking with the staff, I can see how much it has meant to them. They have shared with me great successes and the joy of watching their rambunctious eighth graders graduate high school and go on to college. They have also shared with me the tragic losses, such as the loss of some young lives due to accidents and violence.
This program has definitely changed my staff, and thankfully it also had a profound effect on the families it served. We reached out to young people in middle school to encourage higher education and career goals. We gave them an opportunity for a better life, and didn’t stop there. We pursued them (relentlessly, some will say) and never gave up on them. We reached out to parents, who had concerns about their children going to college – concerns which were borne out of the unknown. They gained confidence that they could afford college, and more importantly, that their children would be in a supportive environment. We reached out to schools and guidance counselors, offering assistance in enrolling their students, as well as mentoring and tutoring assistance.
Our support program moved on to IPFW for two main reasons. First, there was a statewide initiative to get all support programs into educational settings, and second, IPFW has always been a supporting partner of the support program, and has numerous resources and advantages to offer the participants. I wish the staff, the participants, and the program the very best of luck and continued success. I feel a personal sense of loss, but also an excitement for this program. The Twenty-first Century Scholars Program will continue to exist, and as long as I am trustee, I will continue to do what I can to support its efforts.
Matthew P. Schomburg
Wayne Township Trustee
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