“Education is the most empowering force in the world. It creates knowledge, builds confidence, and breaks down barriers to opportunity.”
The Freeport High School Scholarship Foundation addresses inequities in college access among Freeport High School graduates.
For the last several years, U.S. News and World Reports rated Freeport High School in the top 20% of high schools in Maine. And, while public-school enrollment has been declining in Maine, RSU 5’s has increased significantly. The community has made substantial investments in and improvements to the school in recent years, such as a new science and technology wing, a performing arts center, and a state-of-the-art track and turf athletic field. The underpinning of RSU 5’s success has been the very unique spirit of support and volunteerism within the Freeport, Durham, and Pownal communities, which provide scholarships and assistance to make it possible for every child to go to camp, and for every family to have meals, shelter, and heat in the winter.
One element of assistance is missing though – one that can arguably make the longest-lasting impact on an RSU 5 student’s life: need-based financial support for graduates seeking to pursue higher education. In its efforts to support the broad populace, the communities of Freeport, Durham, and Pownal have yet to address students’ inequitable access to post-secondary education, stemming from the region’s widening gap between upper and lower household income levels. Of the approximately 560 students who have graduated from Freeport High School in the past four years, 25% enter the workforce with only a high school education. Maine’s hallmark industries that formerly could absorb and compensate graduates twenty years ago, have either dissolved, declined, or evolved in terms of the higher education they require. In a world demanding more skills to succeed, this group of students is being left behind. Currently, at Freeport High School, 23% of students are living near or below the poverty level. For those students, college or technical school, even with financial aid, can be out of reach.
The Freeport Scholarship Foundation serves as the missing piece to the RSU5s educational spectrum. Although there are many well-intentioned scholarship funds within our community, most fall short of the actual financial support and mentorship a student needs to succeed. The Freeport Scholarship fund has the goal of building a $2,000,000 endowment with the ability to generate $40,000 per year for scholarship assistance. If this goal is achieved, each year, a committee comprised of school and community members will award two students up to $5,000 per year for up to four years. Selection will be based on need. The foundation is also building a support network of community mentors who will guide students through their post-secondary college, certificate, or trade school experience.
By offering life-changing opportunities to a select few students with strong potential but without the means to go on to education or training after high school, we can not only help them, but we can also make their families, and our community stronger. To achieve this ambitious goal, we seek one-time gifts or a multi-year pledge from businesses, individuals, and families within the Freeport, Durham, Pownal communities.