St. Stephen’s Episcopal School partners with Breakthrough of Central Texas
and its own Emerging Scholars Fund to aid first-generation college-bound students. The Emerging Scholars Program provides financial aid for up to 12 students participating in the Breakthrough program through four years of high school at St. Stephen’s.
The Emerging Scholars Program was founded in 2008 by Carolyn and Jack Long, who sought to remove the financial barriers to success for first-generation, college-bound youth from low-income households. Promising Middle School students involved in Breakthrough become Emerging Scholars if admitted to St. Stephen's in the ninth grade. The program provides a scholarship to support students through their four years of Upper School. Now in its ninth year, the program already has changed the lives of more than 25 deserving young people.
Yvonne Adams, St. Stephen’s director of diversity, has coordinated the program since its inception. She has seen first-hand how the program can change students’ lives. “A lot of the kids come from low-income families and haven’t had access to many of the opportunities available at St. Stephen’s,” she explained. “Most come from schools with less-than-great academics, so they have to learn to work harder.
“Emerging Scholar students are more independent, better advocates for themselves, and ready for the world because they’ve been exposed to so much of it at St. Stephen’s,” she said. “The program closes the gap in access to the things that lead to a successful life.”
In December 2015 the Longs invigorated the program with another important gift. Representing their third major gift to the Emerging Scholars Program, they issued a matching challenge gift of $1 million. A few months later, current Spartan parents Michelle and Martin Taylor committed $500,000 to the program as an initial lead gift toward the matching gift goal. They continue to be Inspired by the tremendous impact the Emerging Scholars Program has on low-income students.
“I fell into my career by accident,” explained Martin Taylor, operating principal of Vista Equity Partners. “I was never exposed to careers in finance or technology as a kid — that’s why programs like Emerging Scholars are so important.
“You just cannot take a student and drop them into a different school environment and expect them to do well,” he added. “You need to close the achievement gap by providing additional resources needed to help them succeed.”
The Emerging Scholars Program is just one of the many ways that St. Stephen’s supports student diversity as an essential component of a quality education that encourages respect for and empowerment of the individual and discourages the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. Thanks to the school’s steadfast commitment to diversity, all students benefit from a community that embraces geographic, ethnic, religious and socio-economic differences.