Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

July 28, 2008

Act Six Initiative Expands to Spokane with Full Scholarships to Gonzaga, Whitworth

Nine Spokane-area students will be eligible for scholarships covering 100 percent of their financial need to attend Gonzaga or Whitworth universities beginning in fall 2009 through an expansion of the successful Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative.

Launched in 2002 by the Tacoma-based Northwest Leadership Foundation in partnership with Whitworth, Act Six seeks to develop urban leaders to be agents of change on campuses and in their home communities. The program initially targeted first-generation, college-bound students from urban Tacoma but has since expanded to Seattle, Portland, Memphis, Tenn., and now Spokane. Gonzaga is the latest university affiliate, joining Crichton College, George Fox University, Northwest University, Pacific Lutheran University, Trinity Lutheran University and Whitworth.

Raymond Reyes, Gonzaga's associate mission vice president for intercultural relations, says Act Six is an ideal fit for the university's mission.

"Through its collaborative association with the Act Six Program, Gonzaga University animates the currency of its Jesuit roots and creates a highly effective way to manifest its institutional mission," Reyes says. "For many years to come, all members of our learning community, such as the Act Six scholars, the entire GU student body, and our faculty and staff, will benefit from this initiative that uniquely braids the promise and practice of cultural diversity, leadership development and academic rigor in service to the common good. St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is smiling right now at this beautiful articulation of faith in the promotion of justice."

This fall, the sixth multicultural cadre of 10 Act Six scholars will enroll at Whitworth and, by December, 20 of the 21 scholars in the first two cadres will have graduated.  Overall, 63 of 67 scholars originally selected for the program have graduated or are still enrolled at Whitworth – reflecting graduation and retention rates that far exceed national averages. Act Six scholars have been elected student-body president two of the past three years at Whitworth and have been involved in numerous other leadership roles on and off campus.

"Our scholars are having a profound impact through their leadership on campus and, as they begin to graduate, they are making a powerful and positive impact on the community," says Tim Herron, founder and national director of Act Six. "This is what we envisioned when we launched Act Six and what we hope can be replicated in Spokane."

Act Six in Spokane will be coordinated by Rodney McAuley, longtime civic leader and local director for the Northwest Leadership Foundation, a faith-based non-profit organization that seeks to encourage, strengthen and develop leadership for the spiritual and social renewal of the city. McAuley sees Act Six as a natural reflection of his Christian faith commitment to love one's neighbor across racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic lines. But he also sees the program as a strategic investment in the economic and social well-being of the Spokane community.

"Even in this supposedly remote corner of the world, the demographics are shifting. Twenty-five percent of the Spokane Public Schools' population are students of color, compared with 8 percent in the overall population of the city," McAuley says. "Developing leaders who are practiced in the art of communicating across cultures and building bridges will strengthen Spokane's ability to compete in a world that is rapidly becoming more diverse and interconnected."

Herron, a former math teacher at Tacoma's Lincoln High School, developed Act Six after seeing many of his most promising students fail to complete college. He modeled the program after a similar initiative the Posse Foundation developed nearly 20 years ago to train and send groups of students to elite colleges.

Act Six develops leaders through a simple, but powerful, four-step strategy:

  • Recruit and select diverse, multicultural cadres of an urban community's most promising emerging leaders.

  • Train and prepare these groups of students in the year prior to college, equipping them to support each other, succeed academically, and grow as service-minded leaders and agents of transformation.

  • Send and fund the teams together to select faith-based colleges on four-year, full-tuition, full-need scholarships.

  • Support and inspire by providing strong campus support and ongoing leadership development to nurture these young people as they find their vocation and grow into the next generation of community leaders.

The rigorous selection process seeks to identify student leaders who are passionate about learning, eager to foster intercultural relationships, willing to step out of their comfort zones, committed to serving those around them, and ready to make a difference on campus and at home. The selection process also places high value on applicants' teamwork, critical thinking and communication skills, and academic potential.

Act Six, which is open to students from any Spokane-area high school, will provide five scholarships to attend Whitworth and four to attend Gonzaga. Applicants must be high-school seniors planning to graduate in 2009 or that have graduated from high school in 2007 or 2008. While ethnicity and family income are factors in selecting an intentionally diverse group of scholars, there are no income restrictions, and students from all ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is Nov. 1. A committee of community representatives led by McAuley will select a group of semifinalists for each college based on candidates’ written applications and their participation in a half-day community-based workshop in the fall. Semifinalists will then visit one of the colleges in January for a four-part evaluation process after which the nine scholarship recipients will be chosen.

Students and parents can learn more about Act Six and download an application at www.actsix.org.

Contacts:

 

Rodney McAuley, Spokane director for the Northwest Leadership Foundation and Act Six, (509) 953-8003 or rmcauley@northwestleadership.org.

Tim Herron, national director for Act Six, (253) 272-0771 x15 or therron@northwestleadership.org.

Raymond Reyes, associate mission vice president for intercultural relations at Gonzaga University, (509) 313-3667 or reyes@gu.gonzaga.edu.

Dale Soden, executive assistant to the president at Whitworth University, (509) 777-4433 or dsoden@whitworth.edu.

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